Dear Fellow Galiano Resident,
RE: Public Meeting on Finding a Doctor for Galiano Island
As you are no doubt aware, since Dr. David Beaver left Galiano over a year ago we here on Galiano have been without a full-time physician. I am writing on behalf of the Galiano Health Care Society to provide you with a brief update and invite you to a public meeting where we will be providing a lot more information about the current state of affairs, what the future holds and what you can do to help us again get a physician on Galiano and restore our former levels of health care.
As a bit of a preview to that meeting, let me briefly share with you what has happened. The GHCS this last year has faced a three-pronged challenge. The first has been to assure that everything is being done to find a new doctor for Galiano. The second has been to assure that we have adequate medical coverage for islanders in the meantime. The third has been to maintain some sort of financial viability in the face of greatly increased costs and loss of income for the GHCS.
As to finding a new physician, let me give you a very brief history. Some years ago, the entire province was divided into five regions, each of which has a “Health Authority” to oversee all medical/health care in that region. We are under the Vancouver Island Health Authority or VIHA. The family doctor on Galiano is actually a contract employee of VIHA, not the GHCS, and it is VIHA’s job to recruit candidates for that position. VIHA has actively worked to find such candidates through a number of channels but to date has been unsuccessful.
Providing medical coverage until a full-time physician can be found is also the responsibility of VIHA, through the Ministry of Health’s locum program. Coverage consists of two components. The first is provision of medical services during regular clinic hours. The second is provision of emergency medical services during non-clinic hours (that is, week nights and weekends) We have received consistent funding for the clinic coverage, although VIHA has not always been successful in finding someone to fill those locum positions. This is why there are some weeks when we don’t have a doctor on Galiano. The money is there and attempts have been made to recruit one each week, but sometimes there simply isn’t an applicant for the position so it remains unfilled. The issue of night and weekend emergency coverage has been much more problematic. This is a very complex situation which will be discussed in detail at the meeting, but what it boils down to is that for many week nights and virtually all weekends we have no medical coverage, something we did have when Dr. Beaver was here. We do have on-call nursing coverage on two weekends each month but have nothing beyond the level of first responders and/or ambulance attendants on the other two weekends each month. This situation is, in the view of the GHCS board, completely unacceptable. We have expressed our concerns to the Ministry of Health and VIHA but to date the situation remains unresolved.
Our third problem has been sustaining the financial viability of the GHCS. The loss of the doctor has meant loss of income (in the form of rent) and increased costs (in the form of office staff salaries etc.) which have come on top of numerous other costs we face with a steadily aging facility (e.g., the need to replace the flooring, to earthquake-proof the treatment areas, etc.) Through the efforts and support of many board members and residents we have raised more money this year than ever, but the gap still remains.
This brings us to the point of this letter, which is, what can we do, working together, to correct this situation? We would ask you to do three things.
- First, please continue to use the clinic for your health care needs. We have a variety of health services available in addition to the locum, including a dentist, dental hygienist, nurse practitioner and many others. The more you use the services at the clinic the easier it is for us to assure that our health care needs on Galiano are recognized and met.
- Second, please attend our meeting at the Lion’s Hall on Sunday July 24th at 2:00 pm to learn more about the situation and what we can do about it. The goal of the GHCS is to assure that accessible medical care is available for all residents of and visitors to Galiano and with your help we believe that we can restore our previous levels of health care.
- Third, please support our fund-raising activities as much as possible. If you’re not already a member, please join the society. Consider making donations or bequests. And last but not least buy tickets for the quilt raffle and attend our upcoming dance and the annual wine festival.
Thank you in advance for your help,