Northern Health held a community meeting in Vanderhoof to discuss and understand community needs and ideate on attracting and retaining physicians.
The meeting held Nov. 28 was closed to the media and participants were chosen by Northern Health. There were sixty participants which largely included residents of the community, district mayor and council, representation from neighbouring First Nation communities and towns.
On Friday, the Omineca Express spoke with Dr. Shannon Douglas from Vanderhoof and Dr. David Snadden from Prince George who were a part of the community meeting.
There is ‘tremendous will and desire’ in the community to contribute in not just attracting physicians to work in Vanderhoof, but also to make sure workers and their families enjoy living here, says Douglas.
“We are trying to understand the kind of support and resources we can provide to physicians, to support their children and families, employment for their spouse and housing. In that sense the entire community has something to contribute,” she said.
Building a sense of community for workers who move to Vanderhoof regardless of their profession was an important piece of the meeting.
Snadden said there is a discussion happening on whether the local clinic needs any changes. Nothing concrete has been decided and the topic is still just being discussed, he said, “but the fact that people are beginning to think ‘what kind of infrastructure do we need if we try to get teams in the area working together.’ I think that is an important part of the discussion.”
Another idea is having a go-to person in Vanderhoof who can bring people together and help workers transition into the community, he said.
Meanwhile in 2019, five full-time and one-part time physician left the community. Eryn Collins, media relations and public affairs at Northern Health told the Omineca Express in a Nov. 1 statement that some of these departures were related to retirements, and others were personal decisions made by the physicians.
Northern Health has been proactively working with local physicians on a recruitment plan around these departures, she wrote.
Currently, Vanderhoof has 10 full time and part-time local physicians, as well as a full time Nurse Practitioner. There are locum physicians working in both the Omineca Clinic and St. John Hospital emergency room as well.
She said that even though Northern Health is actively recruiting for additional primary care providers, they do not expect any gaps with respect to residents’ ability to access primary care.