The Bengough Health Centre has been without a long-term resident physician since the resignation of Dr. Wong in October, 2008. They were able to recruit Dr. Tshiyombo in April 0f 2009, but her stay was short lived.
The Rural West Primary Health Team was formed and has been working together for several months to form a plan to service the healthcare needs of the communities and areas served by the healthcare facilities in Bengough, Pangman and Radville.
The team is comprised of Dr, Oberholzer, one of the resident doctors in the Radville Health Centre and a number of other health professionals.
Heather Tant, Regional Director of Primary Health and Rehab for Sun Country Health Region explained how the team came to be. “Dr. Oberholzer and Leila McClarty (Community Health Service Manager of the Bengough Health Centre) were really pivotal in making that happen. Dr Oberholzer was willing to provide services on an alternate payment basis to Bengough and Pangman and then that allows the health region to access team support funds from Primary Health Branch so we were able to get funds so that we could hire a nurse practitioner that will be starting in June, 2011 when she is done her program. As well, Dr. Oberholzer provides physicianal services to Bengough and Pangman.”
Tant explained her part in the process. She said, “My role is more to facilitate, bringing these teams together, that includes getting some finances from the province for supporting Primary Health Care Teams as well as helping to bring the various region staff members in to help the team meet the care needs of the community.”
On Monday, December 6, the Rural West Primary Health Team held their final meeting in a series of four communities to discuss the current plan for healthcare in the area.
Tant said, (Meetings were held in) Bengough, Radville, Ogema and Gladmar to find out from the community what they felt their healthcare needs are and give us some ideas on how the primary healthcare team would be able to fill those needs.”
According to Tant, the Rural West team includes Dr. Oberholzer, home care nurses, mental health nurses, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech/language therapists, dieticians. “Depending on the needs of the patient, we will work to bring those care providers in to health give the patients the care that they need.” said Tant.
Currently, Oberholzer provides services for the long-term care residents in the Bengough Health Centre, but no clinic hours are held in the centre. Tant said, “The plan isn’t written in stone, so to speak, but the Nurse practitioner would have clinics in Bengough and Pangman, probably in Radville when Dr. Oberholzer travels out to Bengough and Pangman, the nurse practitioner would go to Radville and keep clinic services going while Dr. Oberholzer is away.
The nurse will live in Bengough in housing provided by the community of Bengough.
Tant talked about the contributions the community and healthcare workers working in the area have made. “The community, I think, has been a big part, many of the people that provide services in that area, live and work in those communities and they have been very supportive. The RM and Town of Bengough have made housing available for the Nurse Practitioner which has been a key part of us being able to recruit that position, it is pretty competitive across the province to recruit Nurse Practitioners and the involvement of the community has been huge in that respect. It was an attractive package.”
From my perspective, the tone of the meeting was very positive. People were pleased to hear that there were some additional services coming in to support the doctors in the area, like the Nurse Practitioner.”
Kathy Gudnason, who lives in Bengough, agreed, “I think it’s a very positive step that they have gotten together as a team and are taking a team approach to healthcare. Eventhough we won’t have a resident doctor at this point, we can start to utilize other health professionals. It takes some of the stress level off the doctors in the area. I am very pleased with the plan.”
Although they have hired a Nurse Practitioner, Tant reported that the hunt for a doctor is not over. “We are recruiting for the third physician, exactly where they would be located, just as with the Nurse Practitioner, and how much time they are going to spend at any one community will really depend upon our needs assessment and what services are needed where.” she reported.
The Coronach Health Centre continues to go without a permanent physician or clinic hours. Asked why the plan did not include the health centre in Coronach, Tant replied, “The service distances between Radville and Coronach are quite great, as you can appreciate, so what we are trying to do is establish a Primary Health Team in Coronach, so hopefully we will be able to make something like that happen for (the Coronach) area as well.”