For most communities, whether rural or urban, the issue that usually tops the list of things that need to be improved, fixed or expanded is health care. For local government the issue usually boils down to working with the provincial government to try and bring more facilities and the people to staff those facilities to their community. For small rural communities like the District of Barriere this work is largely done out of town and behind the scenes.
Recently I attended the official announcement in Kamloops where our local MLA, Health Minister Terry Lake, gave details around the launch of a new family practice residency site based at Royal Inland Hospital and community clinics.
Minister Lake said “Training family practitioners here in Kamloops gives them an opportunity to discover this great region and they will hopefully return for their practice careers.”
In July, the family practice residency site in Kamloops accepted its first six resident physicians: Drs. Paul Dickinson, Harpreet Ghuman, Quinn Hamilton, Robert McKeough, Elizabeth Montgomery and Brittany Weaver.
Some of the details given around the program are that these doctors will complete two years of postgraduate medical training to meet the requirements of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. They will have the opportunity to work with a range of physicians and health professionals to master their technical skills, while developing strong roots in the community.
Kamloops mayor and chair of the Thompson Regional Hospital District, Peter Milobar, is a long standing advocate of improving health care in our region. Mayor Milobar suggested that a lunch for the new physicians be arranged. This was held on Sept. 3, and provided Mayor Milobar, TNRD CAO Sukh Gill, Executive Assistant Becky Blixrud and myself an opportunity to speak with all six of the new resident physicians. To paraphrase Mayor Milobar “this is a shameless plug to have you stay.”
Building improved health care facilities is only a portion of the plan. I commend Mayor Milobar and TNRD CAO Sukh Gill for their foresight around the human side of the equation. Without people to staff the facilities the plan falls apart. By working as a team to attract health care professionals to the region we will all benefit.
Here in Barriere we have been working on a plan to bring expanded health care facilities to the District. At a meeting a few years ago with Interior Health officials it was pointed out that one of the many stumbling blocks to getting agreement from the province around the idea of building a staged level of care facility for seniors was our lack of sewer. That is being dealt with as you all are aware of. Yes, the torn up roads and other inconveniences will bring benefits other than just sewer.
There are other problems to overcome. Going forward here in Barriere, I would like to see the creation of a firm plan around building the initial level of a senior care facility.
Much has been done in the background around creating partnerships to make this a reality. The time has come to put some District resources towards the project. We need to move beyond the theory and start looking for the people that can help us with funding, designing and making the project a reality.
Once we make the first steps down the path to building an initial care facility that would allow seniors (and their pet) to move into a residence in downtown Barriere that will suit their needs, more work can be done around expanding to a facility that provides a higher level of care.
Every community needs to dream big to be able to grow and prosper into the future. The ones that succeed in making their dreams and ideas turn into reality have residents that are willing to keep a positive attitude and don’t allow negativity to block future accomplishments.
The Terry Fox Run was a great success again this year thanks to all the hard work of Kathy Cooper and her team of volunteers. Like all seemingly impossible dreams Terry’s vision started with the first step. His drive and positive attitude held true to the end. Every dream can become a reality if we work together.