We’re still looking! As most islanders will know, not only have we no doctor, but for much of August we were unable to book a locum. As with family doctors, there simply aren’t enough locums to go around, particularly in summertime and around holiday periods (you may remember last New Year’s Eve).
Our nurse practitioner, Leanne Hale, and our on-call nurses have been doing yeoman’s duty maintaining some semblance of regular health care on Galiano; Leanne will be covering three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) at the clinic until we have a locum.
VIHA has stepped up to cover the majority, though not all, of the expenses involved in keeping the health centre running while we have no doctor; this has allowed the Society to give some attention to necessary maintenance issues.
The Country Dance held on July 17 and the raffle of the wonderful quilt made by the Galiano Needle Guild have raised enough money, together with generous donations from the community, so that this fall will see the replacement of our ageing and unhygienic carpets with up-to-date, easy to clean, officially approved flooring.
The annual Wine Festival is the Health Care Society’s main fundraiser, and this year’s Festival was blessed with clear, sunny skies and just enough of a gentle breeze to keep festival-goers and volunteers alike comfortable. Many visitors were heard at four o’clock as they went out through the gates making plans to be back next year! A big thank you to the Festival Committee and all the volunteers for producing a successful and tightly organized event.
The primary focus(s) for the Society continue to be, however, a) to find a long-term medical practitioner for the community, b) to do everything possible to assure availability of care in the meantime, and c) to arrange for the provision of after-hours and weekend emergency coverage. On July 24, a public meeting was held at the Lions Hall with the dual purpose of informing islanders about the work which has been and is being done to resolve these challenges, and of getting feedback and ideas from the community about possible solutions.
Vancouver Island Health Authority’s (VIHA) Doug Blackie, as well as Dr. Ron Hiebert, Medical Director for Rural and Aboriginal Health, were in attendance to hear from residents about their experiences and concerns, answer questions, and give us a picture of our options within the challenges facing the entire health system at present.. The Lions Hall was filled with an attentive crowd; many thanks to the residents of Galiano, who have once again not only given their financial support, but also demonstrated their active engagement. The turn-out made it very clear that the availability of health care is a major concern for all islanders, part-time and full time alike.
One of VIHA’s proposals was that we be given a full-time nurse practitioner until a doctor could be found (instead of having locums). This would have the advantage of continuity of care; however, since nurse practitioners are not presently permitted to do on-call work, it would eliminate after-hours coverage (except for that provided by our stalwart on-call nurses on alternate weekends).