Better for the whole community
“I just think that the more Community Health Centers that we have, the better our populations are going to do, the better our whole community will do." - Tess Bantock, Registered Clinical Counsellor, STEPS CHC
What does it look like when we bring the best of primary health care and social support together?
What emerges when communities are at the helm of their own health?
How do practitioners from multiple disciplines come together to wrap around patients with a wide range of services?
In other words, what does the Community Health Centre model look like in action, and why is this model worth supporting across BC?
Seeing the model work
This past fall, we visited the Thompson-Nicola Region for an up-close look at the Community Health Centre model at work. This is a region with a health system under immense pressure. From staff shortages to strains on the Royal Inland Hospital emergency room, this is a region of the province with a need for increased care capacity.
Here's the good news: The CHC model can address multiple health system constraints at once, and CHCs are already modeling an alternative to traditional primary care right here in the Thompson-Nicola region.
STEPS CHC in Kamloops and Sun Peaks CHC in Sun Peaks are two great examples of the power of communities, and they both demonstrate different strengths of the CHC model.
"It's a win for the patients. It's a win for the doctors. It's a win for taxpayers." - Colin O’Leary, STEPS Board of Directors President
Check out the videos below, and use them in your own organizational communication to help tell the story of CHCs in BC.
More than the sum of our parts
STEPS Community Health Centre : Kamloops BC
A central principle of the CHC model is Team-Based Care. Health is complex, and we can't always solve problems by relying on one discipline or health approach. CHCs embrace this complexity and wrap-around patients with a multi-disciplinary approach.
This brings the best out of every professional involved.
"If something's going on for a patient, we can be creative. Who's going to get involved in how we approach it?" - Cynthia Walshbarr, Registered Nurse, STEPS CHC
In the context of a CHC, Team-Based Care isn't just great for patients, it's also great for doctors.
"I like to work in a team. We have a great support from our administration, from our clinic manager, the social worker and the counselor." - Dr. Laila Ayoub, Family Physician, STEPS CHC, Kamloops BC
This team-based approach allows primary care practitioners (doctors and nurse practitioners) to focus on what they do best, which saves the system resources overall.
"I'm not as good as Tess at doing counseling. I'm not as good at resolving social problems as Kaila the social social worker. And I would be not spending the government's money wisely if I was using my payroll to do those things." - Dr. Sarah Trudeau, Family Physician, STEPS CHC
Why not bring together a diverse team to work together and make the biggest impact on patient outcomes? When communities are at the table designing their own health care solutions, beautiful things arise.
Taking the Pressure Off
Sun Peaks Community Health Centre: Sun Peaks BC
The challenges of delivering care are compounded when we factor in the unique problems facing rural and remote communities. The community of Sun Peaks is known for its skiing and biking, and every November, 1000 young people come to live in the community to run the local mountain resort.
"This is not all about the rich and famous and people who can buy houses here. It is about the working people who run this resort and everything in between." - Laura Bantock, Sun Peaks CHC.
With the health needs of their active and growing community in mind, Sun Peaks residents began exploring a design for a Community Health Centre. The nearest hospital is an hour away in Kamloops, and there are no public transit options. The addition of an urgent care unit to their team-based primary care service design became imperative. The unique design they settled on combines the benefits of long-term care attachment to a doctor or nurse practitioner for residents with increased access to care in the care of injury on the hill.
"Having something really stable in our community was a high priority." - Laura Bantock, Sun Peaks CHC
Sun Peaks is also taking the pressure off of both private practices and emergency rooms in Kamloops.
"Because of the extreme problems with attachment in Kamloops, over 2,000 patients in Kamloops actually receive all of their care with us." Laura Bantock, Sun Peaks CHC
Instead of having to play the role of entrepreneur, manager, and doctor, the Community Health Centre model reduces the administrative burden on primary care practitioners. This is a significant draw when recruiting new doctors to practice in remote and rural locations.
"I looked at the opportunities for community health centers where I could take away that management side of things and just practice medicine." - Dr. Chip Bantock, Sun Peaks CHC
This nimble, community-focused approach is a great way to attract practitioners and use resources wisely.
"I would, without reservation, recommend Community Health Centres to young physicians. It is the model that will keep family practice alive." - Dr. Shane Barlcay, Sun Peaks CHC
Why not bridge the gap in access and minimize the need for trips to the emergency room? But long-term funding solutions are needed to keep centres like Sun Peaks running.
What do you think?
Do you think CHCs are truly best placed to support the community, build bridges, and reduce barriers to holistic care?
What is the experience of your community?
Please share your stories, experiences, and suggestions and we can work together to promote mental health and wellbeing in communities.