Sicamous has made strides in improving medical care for its residents, but the development of a medical team that can respond to a variety of healthcare concerns is still in the works.
Pam Beech, a member of the District of Sicamous’ Community Wellness Committee which is charged with providing the district with information they can use to create a better health and wellness environment as they develop.
Beech said primary care services are a big part of the community’s wellness and Dr. Carol Connick recently opening a practice is a positive step to fulfilling Sicamous’ medical needs; however Beech thinks there is still room to add to the medical team serving the district.
Beech said her Husband Dr. Jack Beech had been Sicamous’ only doctor for the past four years before Connick opened her practice in June. Recruitment efforts aiming to try to find more doctors to share the load have been going on for years.
According to Beech, the goal for Sicamous is a primary care team of two or three doctors and a nurse practitioner. She said the medical team could also benefit from the recruitment of dietitians, physiotherapists, social workers and other professionals.
Beech said most rural communities and some cities are also having to work to find enough doctors.
“There definitely isn’t the manpower to deal with what we need now and we all know that the demands are going to grow,” Beech said adding that an aging population and increased demand for mental health services are placing stress on those in the medical field.
The vision is centralizing each of these medical professionals’ practices at a single facility, creating a one-stop solution for those in need of medical services.
Beech said the Province is working towards locating more medical services in rural areas in order to give rural residents better access to medical services without driving long distances to appointments.
According to Beech, Sicamous is partnering with BC Healthy Communities and Interior Health. She said those agencies’ projects aimed at creating healthcare teams like the one envisioned for Sicamous have been undertaken in urban centres in the past. She added that there isn’t a rural community in the province with the kind of centralized health services being envisioned for Sicamous.
“They want template, they want someone to figure out how to make this work really well and be a model community for how we can provide for the more isolated rural communities,” Beech said.
Having a health team looking after a community can make it less daunting for doctors and other professionals looking to start a practice in a rural setting. Beech spoke of the feeling of isolation for doctors in rural communities where access to specialized medical services for their patients is limited by distance and transportation problems.
“If they can’t get access to a psychologist or a psychiatrist right away, guess who is supporting them in the community. It is another level of responsibility,”she said.
Along with efforts at growing the healthcare team in town, Beech is working with the healthcare committee on some public outreach work to gauge the Sicamous community’s healthcare priorities by visiting public functions. Beech said the committee will be present at music in the park and the other remaining public events coming up in July. She said they will then review the information they have collected and round out input from any demographics they might have missed in August before presenting their findings in the fall.