Letter from the President
I’m writing this letter on a flight to Newfoundland to attend a wedding! So exciting … and it’s given me a bit of time to reflect on how busy a month can be!
Yesterday I attended both our Implementation meeting and our Board of Directors meeting. It is truly amazing to me the amount of progress that is being made in putting forth the agenda of health equity for all , and am so thankful to all those working towards it!
The BCRHN was well represented at the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities): Colin Moss (our VP), Leonard Casley (Director), Jude Kornelsen(Liaison Director UBC Centre of Rural Health Research), Val St John (Liaison Director BC Association of Community Health Centres) and many of our rural municipal and regional district members! They met with numerous government officials, and as well as representing their home area, they represented the BCRHN admirably! We thank them for always keeping the health care needs of the rural population in their discussions! I know the changes that they support positively impact not only their jurisdiction but also positively effect those of us who don’t have municipal governments … Our Regional District representatives also provide a voice for our rural folks who don’t have a municipal government and the everyone working towards changes becomes a powerful voice!
It is always our wish here at the BCRHN to make positive changes to health care policy and service delivery models bases on good sound RURAL research evidence.
The surveys that have been sent out makes this possible and relevant, The surveys have been well received with over 650 submitted at the time of my writing with a few more days to go!
We welcome the exciting announcement that PAs (Physician Assistants) will be licensed herein BC to provide their professional services in initially emergency care These health care professionals have been providing services in other provinces and to the Canadian Military and will certainly enhance our health care system. Itis hoped that their skills will be recognized, and they will be included not only in Emergency care but also in Primary Care moving forward. We encourage everyone to support their inclusion by writing an email of support, Paul will provide more details and links in his update.
Our partnerships with Hope Air and the BC Association of Community Health Centres and the United Way continue. We are very pleased with bring further light to these outstanding organizations!
We are also pleased to announce our recent alliance with the Saunders Family Foundation. The foundation is also focused on issues such as health equity. Paul will provide additional details to new announcements from our partners, and we anticipate that more positive changes for rural BC are coming soon!
I would be very amiss if I didn’t recognize and applaud the work of our Executive Director Paul Adams! He represents us so well with our partners, the media and government. Through his outreach we have become a stronger organization and he is focused on helping us reach our goals ! Thankyou Paul!
He also has a very keen eye for talent in bringing Phoebe Lazier into our fold! She is a wonderful addition to our team! She has conducted interviews with over 60 community leaders , and what continually stands out is her ability to engage with others and provide thoughtful and important information to our discussions. Thank you Phoebe!
The Implementation Committee as always are focused onbringing positive research-based information and ways of actioning the information…great discussions and ideas!
I also in closing want to thank the Board of Directors and our liaisons for their time and always incite full contributions. I also want to thank you, our members and supporters, your voices and input provide us with the information we need to move rural health and wellness forward!
Only the best
From the Desk of the Executive Director
Greetings, BCRHN Community! way slaxt (hello friends in Nsyilxcən).
I am writing this column on our National Truth and Reconciliation Day. I write from the traditional and beautiful lands of the Sylix peoples in the Upper Similkameen region of BC, home to the Upper Similkameen Indian Band.
The BCRHN is grateful to live, work, and be in relation with people from across many traditional and unceded territories, covering all regions of British Columbia. We are honoured to live on this land and are committed to reconciliation, decolonization, and building relationships in our communities. These words are a part of my signature line, they are meant and not just written.
To make that statement meaningful and purposeful our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committee has started our long journey of internal growth and increased awareness. This work will be highlighted by Phoebe in her new monthly article “Community Connect” Phoebe will be sharing insights she is gathering from across BC on health and wellness solutions, some challenges and the work she has been deeply engaged in since joining us.
Phoebe is leading community engagement on many fronts and has managed to speak to many community champions on rural health who have both appreciated and continued the conversations. Her direct ongoing engagements are creating rich data sets while informing communities of programs and models of care specifically intended for help them. It is surprising how many communities have not been informed on many of the programs, tools and services that are available to them and the need to rebuild bridges back to rural and remote areas is more apparent than ever.
Outreach for Hope Air has also resulted in informing many of services that exist but not broadly known. In addition, the announcement at UBCM has significantly improved services for oncology patients in rural and remote BC! $20 million has been allocation to travel assistance for oncology patients needing to travel. This money is over a 3 year period and is split between the Canadian Cancer Society and Hope Air. Having worked with Mark Rubenstein (Chief Hope Officer) and his team for a few months now, I am so impressed with their purpose, the pride in their work but most importantly the impact on the patient receiving help! They are a group of caring and compassionate people who really touch the hearts of those they work with and those who learn about them. The oncology funding is a small step towards equity in accessing care for rural residents and a very welcome one!
UBCM produced some other significant outcomes for rural and remote BC. The doubling of funding for regional transport campaign that was introduced by the community of Nelson and supported by many was endorsed and perhaps the most significant resolution for rural health was SP1 below:
Special Resolution 1 Health Equity for Rural and Remote Communities
Whereas rural and remote communities in BC experience significant health care challenges, including a lack of access to emergency services, on-demand mental health and addictions facilities, physicians, paramedics, and other health professionals;
And whereas the long distances, limited public and private transportation options to travel to the nearest health care service, and high costs for accommodations to stay near those sites while receiving treatment, are substantial barriers for people living in rural communities across the Province:
Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government introduce metrics and policy to identify reasonable travel distances from each community to health care services and facilities, to ensure transparent, accountable, and equitable health care access for those living in rural and remote communities in BC;
And be it further resolved that the provincial government move quickly to increase the health care workforce in rural and remote communities by:
- creating additional licensing and training opportunities for internationally-trained medical graduates;
- establishing recruitment and retention programs for health care professionals willing to work in rural areas;
- approving physician assistants to work alongside physicians and other health professionals; and
- expanding the use of nurse practitioners and pharmacists to increase access to health services.
UBCM Resolutions Committee recommendation: Endorse
Not only was this resolution endorsed but it was endorsed unanimously by the voting delegation, that delegation represents urban and rural municipalities and regional districts and speaks to the universal recognition of our broken rural system.
Progress has been a theme over the last month and last week marked another step forward for Physician Assistants and the move to license PAs for emergency room application and inclusion in BC. Great news! This step is another partial victory for improving team-based care but initially it appears that PAs will not be licenced to practice in Primary Care settings. Comments are open to the College until early October and providing feedback that inclusion of PAs in Primary Care and health centre teams in rural BC is also needed. Read more and send your feedback here.
Tools for rural communities and means to access them effectively are lacking and I learnt of some new ones in development just over the past few weeks. Valerie St John has been working with many groups on promotion of Community Health Centres and one of these organizations I was recently introduced to by Val is the Saunders Family Foundation. I have met virtually President, Dave Saunders and have learnt about a new project the “Community Playbook” that seeks to inform and assist communities in building and rebuilding robust rural health services and rethinking rural healthcare through a team based approach. This work is still in development but the Saunders Family Foundation has been doing some amazing work for communities and people on Vancouver Island and are looking to expand their work and help all of BC with better health and wellbeing. We look forward to our collaborations and truly appreciate the introduction to this progressive thinking and action driven organization.
Lots of conferences and steering committee work ahead for me in October and it starts next week with HCABC steering committee meeting in Richmond where the BCRHN has been invited to provide the Network’s perspective and contribute to the discussion on improving hospice services for all BC residents and we are delighted to be included in the conversation.
The following week takes me back down to a Hope AIr reception and celebration in Vancouver that celebrates over 35 years of service and one of the founding partners Ms. Jinnie Bradshaw. This function is going to be an opportunity to meet people I have been working with and have yet to meet in person, that includes the Chief Hope Officer Mark Rubinstein but also our own President Peggy Skelton, who like most members of my team, I have only ever met virtually!
On October 17th I will be speaking on a panel at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Healthcare Forum. This panel “Challenges to Health Equity” is a significant opportunity to enhance the understanding of rural health challenges and to speak on the social determinants of health with an informed panel of experts. I look forward to this opportunity!
An amazing opportunity to present at the Putting Patients First conference in Vancouver on October 24th has happened and will be led by our friend Jude Kornelsen (co-lead UBC Centre for Rural Health Research). The opportunity has also been created through Jude Kornelsen and the BC SPOR Unit of the Michael Smith Foundation. Jude approach event organizers and suggested a discussion to shift the focus of research engagement from that solely on patients and to expand to focus and conversations to include community. We were then invited to their steering committee and have been creating a great panel to have the discussion. Jude, myself, Val St John and Leanne Heppell, This event is not only an opportunity to shift the conversation but also to directly participate. This conference will be fully hybrid (online and in person) and is free to attend. We will have Kate Wills (Research Assistant UBC) and Phoebe Lazier (Community Engagement BCRHN) as our online moderators and plan an interactive session and include rural residents in the conversation. Please join us on October 26th and register by clicking here.
The Gap Analysis project that we are partnering with Jude on for the Gap Analysis is wrapping up with tremendous response and 670 surveys completed as of Friday with a few more incoming. Interviews with many leaders and policy influencers have also been conducted and continue. We hope to have insights to share into some initial insights soon! Thank you Jude, Kate and Phoebe for spreading the word and getting the data we need to support new policies on rural healthcare in BC.
Our photo contest is now closed but lots of pictures to go through and I expect we will announce our winners in the next edition.
Stay safe, stay connected.
Yours in health and wellness,
Community Connect: Health and Wellness In Rural BC
Hello and happy fall! For those I haven’t had the pleasure of connecting with yet, please allow me to extend a warm introduction. I’m thrilled to share my ongoing collaboration with the BC Rural Health Network (BCRHN) and eagerly anticipate our connection moving forward.
My name is Phoebe and I am a recent psychology grad from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. I have spent the majority of my life in rural BC, growing up in Nelson and relocating to the Nicola Valley with my partner after finishing my degree. I love the outdoors, cooking and reading. I have an interest and passion in identifying and addressing the social determinants of health.
I am the community outreach contractor with the BCRHN and we are currently working on a Community Outreach Initiative in collaboration with the BC Association of Community Health Centres (BCACHC) and the Innovations Solutions Unit (ISU) at UBC, Hope Air and United Way BC (UWBC).
Through these avenues of collaboration, I am working to create community profiles for as many rural BC communities as possible that accurately represent the current healthcare systems, healthcare gaps and needs, mental health care, maternity and reproductive care, indigenous-centred care, LGBTQ2S+ care, travel information for accessing care in other communities, emergency preparedness and safeguarding vulnerable populations and more. This information is gathered through interviews with community members, local leaders and healthcare champions such as yourselves. The data drawn from this project will be used to inform the BCACHC model of care and inform our advocacy for better healthcare in rural communities.
Community Health Centres
This project aims to address the healthcare challenges faced by rural communities in British Columbia by creating better models of care that are driven by the community. This is done through the promotion and establishment of Community Health Centres (CHCs). The initiative aims to raise awareness about the CHC model as an effective method for providing team-based, community-driven care that integrates community resources. BCACHC also seeks to identify and understand the unique health needs of rural communities, facilitate community-led needs assessments and planning, and provide the necessary support for the creation of CHC proposals. This initiative is a step towards improving rural healthcare and strengthening the overall health and well-being of the rural residents of British Columbia. To learn more about BCACHC and the CHC model of care, please visit the BCACHC website.
Did you know?
- Hope Air has a no patient left behind policy.
- Hope Air is not an airline, but rather a charity that books flights and accommodations for patients who must travel to access care in larger urban centres.
- Hope Air has a Volunteer Pilot Program (VPP) in which private pilots, approved by Hope Air, fly patients in small private planes rather than on commercial flights. This makes Hope Air much more accessible to rural residents who are not near a commercial airport!
- If you must drive more than 70 km to a medical appointment, Hope Air can assist in providing accommodations for you and a companion.
Hope Air provides four programs to assist patients in accessing care outside of their communities. These programs include free airline travel and free hotel accommodation for those travelling by ground or air. Free meal vouchers and ground transit options are currently available within several communities and the program details are developing and expanding as I type. These amazing services not only serve patients but are also available for an escort or support person to travel with you! Please visit Hope Air’s website to learn more about how their valuable travel assistance programs can help you or a loved one in a time of need.
United Way BC
October 1st is National Seniors Day! This is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the challenges older adults in rural BC are facing and shed light on some of the incredible senior resources that are made possible by UWBC.
United Way BC Healthy Aging is currently working towards the implementation of a new program and service design. This new design will focus on increased collaboration among organizations within the Community-Based Seniors’ Services (CBSS) sector. Part of the focus will be on making UWBC Healthy Aging grants more accessible and reflective of community needs. This is excellent news for seniors’ resource organizations across rural BC!
Keep an eye out in the near future for a piece I am currently working on which highlights some of the incredible resources that are available to support seniors in their aging process in rural BC. UWBC Healthy Aging provides grants and manages programs that provide exceptional quality-of-life benefits to seniors, helping them stay active, connected and engaged. Two of their most successful senior initiatives are their Better at Home and Social Prescribing programs. Better at Home is a program committed to helping seniors manage day-to-day tasks, enabling them to maintain their independence within the comfort of their homes while staying closely connected to their communities. Social prescribing connects seniors with non-medical resources and activities in their community. Check out the BC Healthy Aging Core website to learn more about the network of news and organizations for seniors in BC.
Now for a project update…
As of the end of September, I have had the pleasure of interviewing 68 individuals in 32 rural communities across BC. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to each and every one of you who have taken the time to speak with me and share your personal and professional experiences in your community. Learning about your communities and connecting with individuals who are on the ground driving positive change is my favourite part of this project! If we have not spoken and this is something you would be interested in, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at email@example.com.
I truly believe that this project can have a lasting impact on healthcare in rural BC. That being said, we recognize that there are other projects and initiatives both pan-provincially and within specific communities that may have similar goals and outcomes. I would like to assure you that we are doing everything we can to ensure we are minimizing duplication of efforts. What makes our project unique is that we are not focused on any specific demographic group within a community, rather we are focused on engaging with a diverse range of individuals and piecing together each of their specific experiences and insights to create these community profiles that are representative of the community from several points of view. We are also focused on making meaningful connections through our conversations and connecting groups or individuals within the community who may be working towards a similar goal.
I understand that many communities have organizations that do incredible community outreach work that is representative of the community and its needs, however, this is not the case in all communities across BC. If you feel as though there is already excellent representative community data available for your area and you feel as though additional outreach is unnecessary, please do not hesitate to share this information with me. I want to ensure that we are supporting and referring people back to information that is already available.
BCRHN’s Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging Committee
I have recently had the pleasure of working with the BCRHN’s Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) committee. This board represents issues that are relevant to rural residents and highlights the intersectionality of many of the inequities and disparities rural residents face. DEIB is looking for volunteer committee members who are passionate about meaningful participation for all rural residents in affirming and inclusive health care services. If this is something you are interested in, please reach out to Jane Osborne (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity I have been given to meet with so many incredible individuals across rural BC through this project. I look forward to continuing my outreach and meeting more of you. If you have any questions or feedback, or if you would like to set up a meeting, please reach out at any time. Thank you for reading and happy October!