Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island Community Health Society
181 Booth Canal Road, Salt Spring Isalnd, B.C. V8K 2N2
Curt Firestone            

Salt Spring Island is one of the Gulf Islands located in the Salish Sea between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Health Services are located in the community of Ganges Harbour.

“We are a brand new society on an island in need of a primary health care centre. We formed as the current fee for service system has been unable to recruit and retain family doctors. A mental health nurse practitioner was placed here about one year ago. As primary care providers are the door to health care services offered by the MSP, we find that 25-35% of our residents have to use an emergency room as their primary care centre. Way too often these are the most vulnerable, those who do not know how to navigate a health care system. At this juncture, we are going through early growing pains and certainly appreciate the support of those who have been down this road before us.”


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November, 2018

Salt Spring Island Community Health Society released two videos, interviewing Peter McKenna, Executive Director of the Rideau Community Health Services in Ontario, Canada.

With many thanks to Salt Spring Island and Peter McKenna.


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August was notable for the announcement that three additional medical doctors would set up their family practices on Salt Spring Island.  Furthermore, all of the current doctors shuffled their physical locations in order to create space in existing offices for the new physicians.   It is sincerely hoped that all Salt Spring residents will now have a medical doctor or nurse practitioner who will serve as their primary care provider.  No one will have to leave the island for basic health care services.  No one will have to sit for hours in an emergency room to receive services typically rendered in a primary care provider’s office.  There will be more time for those who already have a family doctor or nurse practitioner to review multiple health care issues in one visit; to receive routine preventive care services.

Salt Spring Island is currently being served by both full time family doctors and part time family doctors.  It has been estimated that between 2500 and 3500 residents do not have a family doctor.  It is the community’s hope that the new doctors are full time and that they will carry all residents who do not currently have a primary care provider on their patient panels. 

For the Salt Spring Community Health Society Board of Directors, August was a month of ironing out administrative details and enjoying the summer season.  September brings a renewed level of activity as we continue to forge ahead to bring a comprehensive multi-professional community health centre to Salt Spring Island.  Both the BC Assoc. of Community Health Centres and the Canadian Assoc. of Community Health Centres meet this month.  We will be there networking with those who have created dynamic health centres in their communities and those who like us are now creating a new centres.

Having enough family practitioners on Salt Spring is a wonderful first step in the comprehensive health centre development.

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July, 2018 SUMMARY

July became a month of attending meetings, working with other organizations, doing technical work and preparing for the September Town Hall and Forum.

Gwen McDonald was appointed as the SSCHS representative to the Southern Gulf Islands Advisory Committee.

Technical work was completed on the application for registered charity status.  This is a 12-15 month effort.  In the interim, SSCHS has intermediary status allowing for charitable donations to be tax deductible.

Preparation work is well underway for the September 11 Salt Spring Island Town and for the September 25 Forum with Peter McKenna.  Hold those dates.

The SSCHS continued to have meetings with Island Health, BC Rural Health Network and the BC Assoc of Community Health Centres.

Distributed to:  SS Health Advancement Network, BC Health Coalition, BC Rural Health Network, Canadian Assoc. of Community Health Centres, BC Association of Community Health Centres, SS Family Physician Chapter, Rideau Community Health Services, SS Foundation, Adam Olsen, MLA, SS Community Alliance, various respected community members  

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In the true sense of community cooperation, the Salt Spring and Gulf Islands Community Services Society and the Salt Spring Community Health Society have entered into an Intermediary Agreement.  This agreement was approved by both Boards of Directors in June, 2018.  It will allow for funds to be donated to SS/GI Community Services for the sole purpose of funding capital and operational activities of the SSCHS.  Registered charity receipts will be given in accord with Revenue Canada procedures.  The agreement is for two years while SSCHS applies for and hopefully receives its own registered charity status.

The Board heard a report and discussed the need for dental services on SSI.  This critical health service is currently provided by four private dental practices.  Those patients without supplemental insurance plans must either pay full cost (which for many is high) or be eligible for provincial dental financial assistance.  Unfortunately the reimbursement rates for those on dental assistance are so low that most local dentists choose not to accept these patients.  This is especially true in as much as their caseloads are already overflowing.  The principal low income dental program located in Victoria does not accept non-Victoria residents.   An off-island, reduced fee program in Nanaimo is the only current resource.  Unfortunately, it is complicated by the travel logistics.  There are concerns on SSI if dentists decide to leave for retirement or other reasons; especially since a new dental practice is very expensive to create and operate.

The Board adopted a fiscal year of November 1 to October 31.  This is in line with the already adopted month of November to the annual general membership meeting.

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 10.36.13 AMSUMMARY OF MAY ACTIVITES

The Salt Spring Community Health Society (SSCHS) is pleased to announce that it now has a web site.  While the website is not yet complete, it is an opportunity for Salt Spring residents to learn more of what the Society is doing and to engage with us in our efforts to meet the community’s health care service needs.

At a special General Meeting of the SSCHS, new wording was proposed for the Society’s constitution.  The wording was recommended by the Society’s attorney.  The following was adopted as Society purposes: “a) to promote health by providing the public of the Salt Spring Island community with access to primary care medical services by developing a multi-disciplinary health care centre; b) to promote health by providing the community of Salt Spring Island with primary health care services or products that prevent and manage serious threats to health including access to related counselling, information, or group support programs.” 

During the month of May, the SSCHS decided to join the following organizations.  This is enabling the Society to work with our peers in an effort to get the very best information about what is happening across Canada.  We will be carefully listening to Salt Spring residents and gaining guidance from other health societies and organizations.  We have quickly learned that we are part of a historic movement in BC and Canada to improve the delivery of health services.

BC Rural Health Network
Canadian Association of Community Health Centres
BC Association of Community Health Centres
BC Health Coalition

The Salt Spring Forum hosted Andre Picard, Health Journalist for the Globe and Mail.  Approximately 150 Salt Spring residents were in attendance including members of the SSCHS and health care providers.  You are referred to the May 30 edition of the Driftwood for a summary of Picard’s presentation as written by Gwen McDonald and Curt Firestone.  Needless to say, it was an inspiring call to action to bring Canada’s health care delivery system into the 21st century.