Pender Harbour Health Centre

Background:  Pender Harbour Health Centre is a rural, community health centre, operating since 1976 and serving a population of 3,000 permanent and 3,000 additional seasonal residents.  The centre was created in response to community needs when the hospital, previously located in Pender, was moved to Sechelt.  PHHC is owned by the community and operates as a non-profit Society.  The community at that time recognized that this was a significant loss, and they wanted to be able to access health services in their own area.

We have the largest proportion of seniors in the region, with 57% of health centre patients aged 60 or older. The area is geographically spread over a large region and the nearest hospital or other medical services are 35 – 60 minutes drive.  There is no public transportation to this area, as the bus routes end at Sechelt (35 minutes from the Health Centre).  Many of the seniors here are isolated and have difficulty accessing services both inside and outside the area.  Forty percent of the housing is seasonal which means that seniors may have no nearby neighbours or family to assist them.  The goal of the health centre is to provide as much local health and social support as possible to keep people well in their own community.  

Community support and needs: The Health Centre is supported by the community through individual donors, the Municipality, the local auxiliary, bequests, volunteerism, in-kind donations and support for grant writing.  A community consultation undertaken in 2018 included the following needs:

  • People wish to stay in community as they age 
  • Be able to return to community more quickly from hospital by having supports in the area
  • Reduce the need for trips out of Pender Harbour to access services
  • Prepare for an aging population – prevention, support for chronic illness, outreach
  • Have social programs to deal with isolation, lack of transportation, lack of affordable housing

Recently, the community has identified increasing issues around opiate and other drug use, as well as the need for increased mental health services, particularly for youth.

PHHC is working in partnership with VCH and the Division of Family Practice to find ways to meet these identified needs.

Integrated team- based care:   The centre provides team-based care to patients and links as appropriate, with care providers and leadership within VCH.  

Services and Funding Structure:  PHHC is a multidisciplinary centre that has a combination of publicly funded and private services. Community donations form an important part of the operational funding.  The core primary care service provided here is a nurse clinic, working in conjunction with a physician.

Nursing services

  • Ambulatory care
  • Urgent care
  • Lab services (venepuncture)
  • Home care (outreach)
  • Palliative on-call 
  • Public Health nurse – one day every two weeks
  • Nurse practitioner – Women’s sexual health and youth clinics  

Allied, Community and Specialized Nursing services 

The health center has been able to moderately expand its services with the addition of part- time staff and programs funded by MoH.  The programs are preventive and effective in helping seniors and other vulnerable people remain in the community, reducing utilization of acute services.  

The Dietician and Diabetes RN work together to assess, monitor, coach and provide education for people with diabetes or other dietary issues.  

The Chronic Disease Management Nurse provides assessment, ongoing support, education around chronic illness including COPD and cardiac health.  She also supports people in recovery from cardiac surgery.

The Nurse Practitioner – the NP runs a very busy women’s clinic around sexual health.  In addition, she and one of the other nurses offer a youth clinic that has been attracting a variety of youth including the LGBTQ community.

Social Worker has a very busy practice supporting vulnerable seniors, youth at risk, homeless people and providing help with navigation of health and social services.

The Community Coordinator works with all of the above services and multiple community groups to develop social programs and to link other local initiatives with health programs such as Hospice, Seniors Advisory, Alzheimer’s and other support groups.

Mental Health Counseling and Psychiatric services:  are provided at the centre once a week through Vancouver Coastal Health

Adult Day Program and Seniors Social Programs – while these are not running currently due to Covid 19, these programs help to keep seniors living at home, and help to prevent isolation.

Additional services in the Centre

  • Chiropractor
  • Registered Massage Therapy
  • Foot Care Nurse