BC Rural Health Awards recognize primary care partnerships, community advocates

The Rural Coordination Centre of BC was honoured to present the BC Rural Health Awards in all three categories on May 12 at its BC Rural Health Conference in Nanaimo, BC.

This year’s award recipients are:

Drs. Brenda Huff and Onuora Odoh received the Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine: Efficient and Effective Healthcare Partnerships in Rural BC on behalf of the CHANGE BC primary care team

Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine: Effective and Efficient Healthcare Partnerships in Rural BC: CHANGE-BC

CHANGE BC is a team of six primary care rural physicians: Drs. Jocelyn Black, Brenda Huff, Gregory Linton, Matthew Menard, Wouter Morkel, and Onuora Odoh. The group uses a team-based approach to prevent chronic disease through the integration of nutrition and exercise interventions into primary care. Patients receive personalized dietitian and kinesiologist supports that are delivered via in-person and technology enabled visits. Patient-focused group classes are also made available.

The CHANGE BC program embraces the Five Partner approach developed from the Partnership Pentagram for socially accountable system transformation. This model involves bringing together multiple healthcare stakeholders for collaboration:  Policy Makers, Health Administrators, Citizens, Contributors, and Health Providers.

CHANGE BC is supported by the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice, the University of British Columbia’s School of Kinesiology, Metabolic Syndrome Canada, and the General Practice Services Committee.

Read the Williams Lake Tribune story about the CHANGE BC team

Dr. Kirstie Overhill congratulating Dr. Geoffrey Appleton for his 2018 Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine: Lifetime Achievement

Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine: Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Geoffrey Appleton

Dr. Appleton has cared for generations of patients across Pacific Northwestern BC for 43 years. He played an integral leading role in building primary care infrastructure in Terrace, stepping up in 1976 as a respected Medical Director of the local laboratory and then serving as Northwest Medical Director for Northern Health in 2009. During his career, Dr. Appleton served as: Chief of Staff for Mills Memorial Hospital; first President and Founding Member of the Terrace and District Medical Association, (est. 1979); and, President of the BC Medical Association (now Doctors of BC) from 2007-2008. In 2016, Dr. Appleton took the helm of the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice as its Physician Lead.

In addition to his medical leadership, Dr. Appleton has also demonstrated legendary service to his community. He served with the Terrace Child Development Centre for 11 years as Board Director and 15 years as its Medical Director. In 2016, Dr. Appleton became the Director for the Dr. R.E.M. Lee Foundation, a key local charity that supports Mills Memorial Hospital and Terrace View Lodge.

Gabriola Island was honoured with the 2018 BC Rural Community Award for its amazing resilience and strong support from community health advocates and volunteers

BC Rural Community Award: Gabriola Island

Gabriola Island was honoured for its innovation and resiliency in recovering from a healthcare crisis in 2006, when the island’s only physician – frustrated by a lack of medical facilities and services – nearly left. The community addressed the situation by creating the volunteer-led Gabriola Health Care Foundation, which organized funding and recruitment of volunteer labour to build a 8,500 sq. ft. health centre. The community centre opened its doors in 2012.

Today, the Community Health Centre provides access to three family doctors, emergency care, a helipad for medical evacuations, a mental health nurse, home care nursing, two social workers (community and seniors outreach), a visiting psychiatrist, surgeon and plastic surgeon, home support workers, a medical lab, a dental clinic, and telehealth.

Since the opening of the clinic, the community formed the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative, a dedicated group of volunteers that identify and work to improve social determinants of health. During its first year, the Collaborative focused on the mental health and substance use issues and partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association and University of Victoria to train dozens of community members in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. In 2018, the Collaborative will address supports for child poverty and the pressing need for hospice services.

2018 marks the fifth year that RCCbc has recognized BC physicians and communities for their contribution and dedication to rural medical practice with the BC Rural Health Awards. Each year, RCCbc recognizes rural physicians within a themed category (e.g., Innovation in 2016, Rural Opinion Leaders in 2015) as well as acknowledging long-term practitioners who have shaped and served their communities for more than 15 years. In 2016, RCCbc began to honour the valuable work of interprofessional health care teams in sustaining and/or retaining rural community health services in British Columbia.

A call for nominations was issued in December 2017. Recipients were selected by a committee consisting of representatives from RCCbc and the University of British Columbia. All award recipients received a physical plaque, along with a $2,500 grant to be used for hosting a community celebration.

The BC Rural Health Awards are made possible through the generous funding provided by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC).  The JSC is a joint collaboration between the BC government and the Doctors of BC that provides policy oversight as well as funding for rural physician programs to increase recruitment and retention of doctors in British Columbia.