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North Shuswap health centre pleads for government funding

More than 4,000 people have signed petition calling for support from CSRD, Ministry of Health
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More than 4,000 people have signed a petition on change.org calling on the CSRD and the B.C. Ministry of Health to provide financial support for the North Shuswap Health Centre. (File photo)

Having to fundraise to provide essential community health-care services is a burden operators of the North Shore Health Centre wish to ease.

On Saturday, June 27, a golf tournament fundraiser is being hosted at Shuswap Lake Estates with all proceeds going to the health centre.

Grateful for this support, Gail McNeil Oliver, the health centre’s executive director, explains the rural community facility, once funded by Interior Health, is currently operating with locums and contract doctors with costs that shouldn’t depend on fundraising efforts. Oliver would like the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the B.C. Ministry of Health to step up with some consistent, reliable source of financial support.

And she is not alone. As of June 5, 2020, more than 4,000 people had signed a petition set up by Oliver on change.org, asking for the CSRD and the ministry for help.

The petition states the clinic currently does not receive any form of government funding. Revenue is generated through billable clinic services, donations, and fundraising.

“Without this essential primary health-care service, 5,000 patients who visit NSHC for Medical Services, Laboratory Services, Public Health and Allied Health Services will have to go elsewhere for these services,” reads the petition, noting it costs the average resident $300 to $400 a year to travel outside of the community to access health services.

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Oliver noted patients from other communities – including some from as far as Kamloops, currently drive to the clinic in Scotch Creek for medical services.

“We’re serving people form the North Shuswap but I can tell you we’re serving people from Salmon Arm, Sorrento, Kamloops, Chase, so it’s kind of interesting because we need the service for our community but people in other communities who can’t get medical services are coming here because they can get in right,” said Oliver. “So that’s kind of another reason why we should be receiving some other form of funding.”

Oliver explained an application for emergency funding was submitted to the CSRD.

“And then we made a plea for a contribution agreement so we have a small tax amount coming to us just to give us some base funding right,” said Oliver, adding many residents in the North Shuswap have expressed support for a taxation function where residents of Electoral Area F contribute $15 to $20 annually.

“Our population is growing and we have more young families moving here, babies being born, and of course we have that large early retirement senior population right, and without the services in your community, eventually those folks have to move away,” said Oliver. “We’ve seen it here and we know it effects our economic stability.”

For more information on the June 27 golf event, email nshcevents@gmail.com.

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