The Story of the Society
On July 21, 2011 a meeting of interested community members was advertised by CSRD Director Denis Delisle to initiate discussion for support for the continued operation of the local community medical centre. The first meeting was held to determine some broad goals and ideas that a Health care Society might have and the structure it might take.
Denis Delisle later reports in the August 2011 Kicker: The need for this meeting came out of the many frustrations of past years, losing Physicians, Nurses and the Clinic itself. Many people have gone to larger medical centers to assure themselves of a permanent Doctor, further weakening the support of our local community medical center.
On Saturday April 23, 2012 the contracts were signed that moved the lease of the clinic space in Scotch Creek to the NSHCS starting August 1st. On the same day Drs. Janet and Ken Bates signed agreements to be our first physicians. This could not have been done without significant effort by all our Board and volunteers as well as Drs. Bates and their staff. We thank Sonja Vernon-Wood acting on behalf of our landlord for her patience and co-operation setting up this agreement.
The Society moved forward with small purchases toward owning all inventory of the clinic. They purchased 3 new examination tables and replacement waiting room furniture. When a doctor retired in a nearby community they were able to purchase a variety of needed office and examination room items at a bargain price.
In January of 2013, blood collection services by LifeLabs (Kamloops) were started. The service is every Friday from 0900 – 1300. Results are available directly to the ordering physician by electronic transmission, generally by the next day for most requests.
In 2014, the Bates informed the society of their plan to move into retirement effective July 2014. The society undertook to secure locum doctors through the BC Rural GP Locum Program to provide as much physician coverage as possible. Several physicians spent a week in Scotch Creek under this program. http://health.gov.bc.ca/pcb/rural.html
One of the physicians was Dr Mike Figurski who introduced his initiative of ‘Virtual Doctor’ appointments to the clinic. By November of 2014, VDoc was operational every Friday morning. Unfortunately, despite the popularity of ‘Dr Mike’ in person, the concept of virtual doctor visits was not as successful as hoped and was discontinued in fall 2016.
2015 saw the realization of the need for a physician in the community so recruitment initiatives began in full force. This was new territory for the volunteers of the society so many resources were utilized to get the message out. In addition they made plans for locum coverage for the summer of 2015. Dr Figurski again helped out immensely by offering to provide all the locum days allotted to Scotch Creek by the rural program. VDoc continued for the weeks he was not physically at the clinic during 2015 and 2016.
Also, during 2015, the society realized that help was needed with the recruitment process due to lack of support in this area by the local health authority. A contract was signed with GlobalMedics www.globalmedics.com to assist not only with recruitment but ensuring any prospective physician can move through the various stages of certification and endorsement in British Columbia. In late 2016, we were informed by GlobalMedics that they would no longer be operating in Canada and our contract was ended.
The society continued many and varied recruitment efforts on its own including the inception of the $1000 Reward! Anyone who provides information on a physician willing to practice in Scotch Creek for a minimum of 3 years is eligible for a reward of $1000!
The big news for 2015 was to find that the owner of the clinic space may be planning to sell. The society took the position that in order to ensure the continuation of the NS Health Centre the best plan was to purchase the building itself. The offer to purchase was accepted and by July the Clinic Purchase Fundraising Initiative was begun. The community donations were overwhelming and by the end of 2015 the fundraising was complete and the mortgage retired in early 2016. The North Shuswap Health Centre is truly a community owned entity via the North Shuswap Health Centre Society. An interesting sidebar to the purchase is the fact that the regional district (CSRD) and the Ministry of Health through the local health authority provided funds toward North Shuswap health care initiatives. CSRD provided a $20,000 grant which was used towards the purchase and MOH provided $60,000 which will be used towards future initiatives to ensure the clinic continues to provide health care to the community.
And after almost 2 years of work, the North Shuswap Health Centre Society has achieved Charitable Status with Canada Revenue Agency. The society was able to give charitable tax receipts for donations towards the clinic purchase and moving forward will give receipts for all donations of $20 or more. Our charity number is 84703 6308 RROOO1
2016 saw the society determined to focus of RECRUITMENT! They improved the $1000 Reward to $5000 and received a huge amount of local, provincial, national and even international publicity with that … but still no doctor – but quite a bit of interest! Several interested out of country physicians were referred to HealthMatchBC to begin the process of certification in Canada and in BC. We keep in touch with this process and remain very hopeful.
2016 also saw greatly improved usage of the Rural GP Locum program as we were able to apply for and receive 38 supplemental coverage days which made our total 76 days of coverage for the fiscal year April – March. While this was not the same as a permanent doctor, 6 different locums spend anywhere from 1 to 5 weeks in the clinic. We realize that locum coverage is not a sustainable solution to a lack of a permanent physician but for now is providing a form of almost adequate health care for residents and visitors.
In May we hosted a !st Health Fair in collaboration with Interior Health. The event was held at the NS Community Hall with 17 health care related tables around the room. Although attendance was lower than we would have wished the event was deemed a success and plans were started to hold the 2nd in 2017. A short survey was filled in by attendees to provide some information on health care needs.
2016 also saw the society taking a huge leap of faith with the hiring of an executive director to assist with the variety of responsibilities associated with ownership and running of a health clinic. The intent of this position is that it will work to be self sufficient within the first full time year. The society was happy to report at the 2016 AGM that the executive director has improved many aspects of the management and running of the health centre.
In September 2016 we were visited by a videographer from Telus Optic wanting to film a documentary all about the endeavors of the NS Health Society and the clinic. Staff, visiting doctors, society and board members and community members were interviewed and finally we received the completed product. It can be viewed on our Facebook page or by following this link. http://www.facebook.com/optiklocal/videos/1024040104367099/
In November 2016, our chair Jay Simpson and his wife Angela, represented us at the National Family Medicine Conference in Vancouver. This 4 day event has several thousand doctors, residents and associated health care professionals attending from all across the country. As a non-profit we were able to have a booth in the exhibitors area for a reasonable cost. Lots of interaction and contacts were made.
During 2016, the society continued efforts to utilize financial resources available for non- profit organizations. A successful application was made to SIDIT (Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust) for funding. The project identified was to make the clinic viable on a long term basis to provide a locus for health care in the North Shuswap. To do this the aim would be to reduce operating costs and increase revenue. The 15 year old clinic will be renovated and enhanced to bring it up to a standard for modern, technological health care. January 2017 saw the completion of a renovation designed to provide confidentiality of patient/reception interactions as well a doctor/reception conversations. The reception area was separated from the waiting room area and the office area was reduced in size with consolidation of the amount of space needed. Storage cupboards formerly in the office were re-purposed to the lab collection room and staff lunch room. The lunch room was reorganized to enable a space for a possible washer/dryer installation in the future. The entire clinic space was painted in colors researched to be more appropriate for medical examination and millwork was replaced in a modern style. All flooring was standardized and given a industrial coating for easy care. The waiting room furniture was reupholstered in a washable covering. All work was contracted to local trades in accordance with the terms of the SIDIT grant. On January 17 2017 and Open House was held to show off the results of the renovation with over 60 members of the community taking a tour.
January 2017 also saw the beginning of a contract with Dr Mark Hickman who will work on a part time schedule for one year. The plan is for 2 days per week every other week. An option for three days is possible if the community needs are not being met with two days. Extensive advertising and community contact is being made to ensure appointments for the two days are being filled. Dr Harpreet Kelly has also agreed to do some two day visits to fill in between the other days. The first six months of this contract has fulfilled its mandate of providing some ongoing medical coverage for residents as well as keeping the face of the clinic very visible. People are coming and going on a regular basis which helps to provide continuity of service. Financially, only one month did not provide positive revenue.
May 2017, was the increase in blood collection service to twice a week, Wednesday and Friday. The numbers were becoming unmanageable for the collection staff to complete in her allotted time Fridays and she was not able to take a break during the shift. As of July, the numbers have evened out over the 2 days with many new patients noted. Additionally, in July the hours of service for blood collection extended to 0800 – 1400 and staff are logging specimens into the computer processing program of LifeLabs onsite rather than when they returned to Kamloops.
In May, the board made the decision to continue the Executive Director position for a further 6 months.
Recent clinic improvements include the installation of a stacking washer/dryer and a sound system to provide subtle background noise which improves confidentiality. Both items were purchased after news articles resulted in specific donations for them. In addition, the Chase branch of the Canadian Legion approached with the offer of a donation towards needed equipment. They were provided with a list and chose to purchase a defibrillator which is now in place.
Recruitment endeavors have provided some exciting visits in the past year. A referral we had from the recruitment firm GlobalMedics became a referral from the new firm YourDoctorJobs. This doctor visited in July 2016 but still needed to complete his paperwork in order to practice in BC. With that in the final stages, he and his fiancé (a nurse practitioner) visited again in July 2017. All we know is that we are on his ‘short list’ while he decides how and where to set up practice in BC. As a result of the conference in Vancouver that we attended a physician followed up with a visit for himself and his family. He is also motivated and looking at options for a move to BC. A third physician is looking seriously at relocating to downsize his practice and Scotch Creek could be the place. We have involved the board and some community members in hosting all these opportunities in hopes that 2017 could be the year we do secure a permanent physician.