BC Gov News + Vancouver Sun
Cheryl Chan – January 21, 2017
If you have a stroke in Vancouver, you can be at Vancouver General Hospital in less than half an hour, receiving highly specialized medical care from on-site neurologists.
But what happens if you have a stroke in Dease Lake, a community of about 450 almost 1,000 kilometres northwest of Prince George, or you suffer a traumatic injury in the Eastern Kootenays that requires a higher level of care beyond what the local hospital can provide?
These are the questions Dr. Dave Snadden is keen to tackle in his new role as founding chair in rural health at the University of B.C. “How does that patient get access to the same degree of expert care that would give us a good outcome?” said Snadden. “That, to me, is the challenge of rural health.”
The Rural Co-ordination Centre of B.C., which works on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (a partnership between the ministry of health and Doctors of B.C.), has been advocating for the creation of the rural health chair because it saw the need for rural areas to have a champion.
Co-ordination centre communications manager Sharon Mah noted 25 per cent of British Columbians live in rural areas, yet only 15 per cent of doctors practice in rural settings: “They’re under-represented,” she said.
Studies also show people in rural communities tend to have poorer health outcomes than urban dwellers.