I would like to share my perspective as a community member and as someone who has had local, regional and provincial experience looking at what rural communities need to focus on to attract and retain health care professionals. My area of expertise is rural healthcare but there are many parallels across industry, government and municipalities.
It is really important that communities, industry, Health Authorities and professional groups work together to recruit and retaining professionals and other workers who provide community services. A good life style, a sustainable work-life balance and an enhanced quality of life are the priorities of new professionals who want to live in communities with modern facilities and communities that embrace philosophies of environmental stewardship and sustainable community living. The playing field has changed and communities need to evolve and adapt to the new expectations of workers.
Health care, education, services and facilities are the crucial factors in the recruitment and retention of healthcare workers and families. I suspect it would be similar for other professional groups and workers. In the past 6 months, I have had conversations with 3 physicians who cited a relative lack of facilities as a significant factor in deciding whether or not to come to Vanderhoof. They were surprised a town the size of Vanderhoof didn’t have an aquatic and recreation facility. Young professionals today are seeking an improved quality of work-life balance in choosing their job opportunities. This includes a strong emphasis on community facilities and recreational opportunities.
I would like to recognize that the Aquatic Centre Society and municipality have worked hard on this project and have done a very good job. Whether or not we see a pool as an asset or were happy with the referendum results, there has been due process in a transparent and informed fashion. A lot of good people have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort on our community’s behalf and they deserve our acknowledgment and respect.
We all have personal ideas about the merits of a new rec centre and pool. In my opinion an aquatic facility is a social equalizer providing opportunity for people of all ages, physical capabilities and socioeconomic status to improve their health and well-being. The secondary benefits of program development enhances the health of the community and improves the overall quality of life of the population. The physical, psychological and social health benefits such a facility would provide are well understood. Personally, as my joints age, I would welcome the opportunity to include swimming as a year round activity. As a physician, I pray I never have to resuscitate another drowned child in this community ever again.
My experience in the struggles to help grow and maintain our rural medical services has taught me that one can never let up, one must be willing to adapt and one needs to forge and leverage all possible relationships and alliances. I think this ideology is equally important to the growth and development of our community. I wonder which path Vanderhoof will choose as we move into the future. Will we proactively evolve, adapt and grow or will we be content with the status quo and hope for the best?
There is no question about our collective ability to raise the required community funds for this project. Vanderhoof is a strong community and I think most of us recognize the privilege we share in living here. For the reasons stated, I have put my support behind this initiative and I would encourage everyone else with the means to do so as well. Whether you sponsor a minnow or a sturgeon, every bit counts. Check out the website: www.vanderhoofpool.ca
Dr. Sean Ebert