During our social rounds this holiday season, members of the Bowen Island Health Centre Foundation board were pleased to hear many strong expressions of support for the new health centre. At the same time, we also heard some basic “nuts and bolts” questions about the centre. We thought it would be helpful to address a few of these as we look forward to a very active 2019.
How will the health centre be funded? Unfortunately, there is currently no government funding available at any level to build a health centre on Bowen. However, given the passionate response to date from people all over the island, we are confident that our community can, and will, make the centre a reality. A number of generous Bowen families have said that they are prepared to give our funding drive a strong start with major pledges. Later this year we plan to launch a broader, island-wide campaign for the remaining funds so that everyone can be part of bringing health care close to home. Pledges can be made at any time through our website bowenhealthcentre.com.
Once the centre is up and running, its operating costs will be covered by rent from the health service providers (tenants), with grants from Vancouver Coastal Health and the Ministry of Health to cover the cost of providing VCH services and other programming on-island.
What services will the centre provide? The core team will include a collaborative group of primary care practitioners. This will allow more residents to have a primary care doctor close to home. The health centre will also be equipped to handle many urgent care needs that need to be treated right away, while life or death emergencies requiring advanced treatment will continue to be routed to the appropriate Lower Mainland hospital.
The centre will host various Vancouver Coastal Health nursing services and clinics (such as immunization, social work, diabetes, asthma, and occupational therapy) as well as the services of allied health professionals, such as physiotherapy. It will be a place of community outreach for health including, for example, CPR training, first aid training and well-baby clinics. It will be a place to learn about prevention so we can all take a more active role in our own health.
The centre is also expected to host a dentist, as well as Life Labs collection services.
What hours will the centre be open? Expanded hours of access to medical services is a central need of the community. To begin, the centre will be open for extended hours Monday through Friday, and for at least one half day on the weekend. The long-term goal is to have after-hours on-call service. Ongoing service hours will be adjusted to meet community needs.
Can we keep our off-island doctor and still use the health centre for urgent care? Yes, services will be available to everyone on a drop-in basis. That said, a key mission of the centre is providing Bowen Islanders with better access to primary care so that no one need get on the ferry just to see their GP. To that end, we plan to recruit a core team of physicians with the collective capacity to provide primary care to everyone on Bowen who wants it. It is interesting to note that 87 per cent of Gabriola Islanders now receive primary care at their on-island health centre, up from only one-third of islanders before their centre was completed.
If you have a question we didn’t answer here – or a comment to share – we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.bowenhealthcentre.com.