Rural Health Headlines


April 11, 2014
Displaced at Birth (Prince George Citizen) – Part 1 of 3: A series on Enhanced Surgical Skills
Mothers from smaller centres in northern B.C. often have to travel to give birth because the lack of surgical care in their home community.

April 13, 2014
Surgery centralization needs to stop: Health care group (Prince George Citizen) – Part 2 of 3: A series on Enhanced Surgical Skills
It used to be common place for residents of rural B.C. to have basic surgical procedures done at their local hospital, but as more and more small-town operating rooms close their doors, patients have to travel longer distances to get care.

April 14, 2014
Rural physicians taking on surgical roles (Prince George Citizen) – Part 3 of 3: A series on Enhanced Surgical Skills
Rural surgery is becoming increasingly scarce in rural B.C. and in Canada generally, so Dr. Bret Batchelor found the idea of working in a community with an operating room exciting.

Sept 13, 2013
Telehealth Expansion Project to benefit BC First Nations (Newswire)
BC First Nations will soon have improved access to health and wellness services through expanded use of telehealth, announced The First Nations Health Authority, BC Ministry of Health, and Canada Health Infoway.

Sept 12, 2013
Urgent care starts Monday at Oceanside Health Centre (The Parksville Qualicum Beach News)
Michelle Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, said in a news release issued by VIHA on Wednesday: “With urgent care now being available locally, more patients will be able to get the care they need without having to travel to an emergency department in Nanaimo, Comox or Port Alberni.”

Sept 6, 2013
BC women up to age 26 now eligible for HPV vaccine (680 News)
British Columbia is expanding its HPV vaccination program in an attempt to reduce young women’s chances of getting cervical cancer.

July 29, 2013
Nelson-Creston MLA pressures minister on physician recruitment (Nelson Star)
Michelle Mungall met with Interior Health CEO Robert Halpenny, and Health Minister Terry Lake, to discuss physician shortages and the need for increased recruitment efforts in the Kootenays.

June 20, 2013
Health centre officially opened (Parksville Qualicum Beach News)
More than 200 people attended the grand opening of the Oceanside Health Centre Thursday, June 20th in Parksville.

June 19, 2013
Care team stop-gap solution to Lake doctor crisis (Cowichan Citizen)
“The goal is to create [an] integrated team in Lake Cowichan to support the people there in their time of need when there’s a dwindling supply of doctors,”  says Valerie Nicol, executive director of the Cowichan Valley Division of Family Practice.

June 19, 2013
More closures for Kaslo emergency room  (Nelson Star)
Kaslo residents are being warned of another closure to the emergency department of their health centre due to a shortage of doctors.

June 17, 2013
Attracting family doctors ‘a crisis problem’ (Kamloops Daily News)
Kamloops needs a broader community effort to attract new family physicians in the wake of the closure of the only walk-in clinic on the North Shore, says Dr. Shirley Sze, president of the Thompson Region Division of Family Practice.

June 14, 2013
Students promoting health jobs (Prince George Citizen)
The 2013 Healthcare Travelling Roadshow visited rural communities from Burns Lake to Fort St. James, encouraging rural students to consider careers in healthcare.

June 13, 2013
Local doctor leaving  (Lake District News – subscription paywall in effect)

Burns Lake is about to lose it’s only full-time doctor. Doctor Kibonge will be leaving at an unspecified date. According to Northern Health (NH), he is leaving for family reasons.

“The workload will be managed by the remaining physicians and locum support, and the emergency department is expected to remain open,” said Eryn Collins, NH spokesperson.

June 13, 2013
MORE Ob launched at Creston Valley Hospital to improve maternity services   (Creston Valley Advance – subscription paywall in effect)

The three-year MORE OB program, funded by Interior Health, will allow doctors and midwives to take part in online learning, drills skills and workshops that will provide instruction on the most up-to-date evidence-based practices for taking care of maternity patients and families.

It’s going to unify all the professionals in the Kootenays with what we’re doing,” said Dr. Karen Persad.

At CVH, the program, created by the patient safety division of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada in 2002, will benefit five doctors and two midwives, who will be able to learn from local specialists.

“It’s not someone else coming in to teach,” said Persad.

June 12, 2013
Balancing Act: Peace Region doctor managed to balance medical school and having a baby  (Alaska Highway News)

June 10, 2013
Local doctor completes advanced surgical training (Vanderhoof Omineca Express – subscription paywall in effect)
Dr. Bret Batchelor recently completed his enhanced surgical skills training which will enable Vanderhoof to keep its OR.

May 28, 2013
Outreach clinic for MS patients starts up at Royal Inland Hospital (Kamloops Daily News)
Starting June 5 and 6, an MS nurse from Kelowna is coming to Kamloops to join a neurologist here for a monthly two-day clinic, said RIH health service director Kris Kristjanson.

May 15, 2013
More than money needed by docs (Terrace Standard)
It may be the money that attracts physicians to rural and remote B.C. communities but it is what happens inside those communities which may convince them to stay, says Dr. Shelley Ross, president of the B.C. Medical Association.

May 5, 2013
Takla Landing featured in Global TV’s “Small Towns” feature (GlobalBC)
This fun collection of photos of Takla Landing includes images submitted by Dr. John Pawlovich, REAP Coordinator. Dr. Pawlovich has served as the fly-in doctor for Takla Landing for several years and offers daily consultation and support services to the health clinic via telehealth technology.

April 17, 2013
Search for a new doctor for small B.C. community goes to the ends of the earth (Vancouver Sun)
For a year, Dr. Michal Smialowski searched high and low to find a doctor to replace him when he retires from his post in Tatla Lake, BC, a tiny ranching community in the Chilcotin. He finally found his man: at the bottom of the earth where Dr. Rob Coetzee now works at an isolated, harsh Antarctica expedition base.

April 17, 2013
Northern Health looks east for medical professionals (Prince George Citizen)
Northern Health is shifting its staff recruitment efforts to eastern Canada, where expected demand for medical professionals is not growing as rapidly compared to western provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan.

April 10, 2013
Rate your hospital: online tool a first for Canadians (CBC)
In a first for Canada, CBC’s the fifth estate has launched an interactive tool that allows patients to rate the quality of care in their own hospitals. It’s part of Rate My Hospital, an in-depth look at hospital performance across the country.

April 7, 2013

Medical system in northern B.C. ‘systematically helps people die,’ claim critics (CTV Vancouver)
Article with accompanying video that examines the impact of transportation issues and lack of advanced trauma care facilities on health outcomes for northern BC residents.

April 5, 2013

Moms and Medicine: balancing both jobs (CBC Radio – Daybreak North)
Daybreak North’s Andrew Kurjata interviews Dr. Nicole Ebert of Vanderhoof, BC about RCCbc‘s Mothers in Medicine initiative, and her own experiences as a mother with an active part-time GP speciality rural practice.

April 4, 2013

Rural doctors tackle challenges  (CTV Vancouver Island – video requires Flash player)
CTV Vancouver Island’s Erin Glazier shows us why rural health providers across the country are calling for more support.

April 4, 2013

On-Air with Pamela McCall  (CFAX 1070 – Victoria, BC)
Host Pamela McCall discusses the SRPC Rural and Remote Course, BC’s physician shortage, and possible solutions for improving health care provision in rural BC with RCCbc‘s Dr. Stuart Johnston.

April 2, 2013

Rural, remote docs gather in Victoria  (Prince George Citizen)
More than 800 physicians working in rural and remote setting across Canada will gather in Victoria for the annual Rural Society of Physicians of Canada conference.

March 22, 2013

The doctors are in (Prince George Citizen)
After losing three family physicians in 2011, the community of Fort St. James rallied together and came with a plan to recruit more rural family physicians to their small, remote community. Their tactic: show them how good life in Fort St. James could be for young professionals.

March 14, 2013

Can B.C.’s family doctor shortage be solved? (Vancouver Sun)
More physicians are being trained here, but the coming bulge in retirements could leave province even further behind

March 13, 2013

JSC announces new rural incentive program (RCCbc)
The Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC) is offering a new program that will incent physicians and specialists to practice in select BC rural communities.

Rural Physicians for BC (RPS4BC) will provide physicians with a one-time payment of $100,000 when they commit to a three-year return of service agreement in 17 designated rural communities.

See Victoria Times Colonist article with quotes from RCCbc Executive Director, Dr. Granger Avery

February 28, 2013

Training the Island’s physicians (CBC Radio)
Radio interview with two residents, Drs. Marcus Barron and Marcie Fukunaga, who are training at UBC’s Nanaimo Regional General Hospital postgraduate site.

February 22, 2013

“A GP for Me” program expanded province-wide, introduces new physician incentives  (BCMA press release)
BCMA president Dr. Shelley Ross joined Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid in launching a new provincewide program,A GP for Me. This program is based on a successful pilot program (aka “Attachment Initiative”) that matched patients seeking a family physician with doctors. As well, a separate and complementary program is being created to support hospitalized patients in receiving care from family physicians.

February 14, 2013

Rural B.C. midwife Joanna Nemrava appointed new president of Canadian Association of Midwives  (Facebook)
The Canadian Association of Midwives/Association canadienne des sages-femmes (CAM/ACSF) announced the appointment of Joanna Nemrava as President for the 2013-14 term.

Ms. Nemrava is a rural B.C. resident who completed her midwifery training through UBC’s Midwifery Program. She is the Head, Department of Midwifery at Royal Inland Hospital, and also runs a community clinic in Kamloops.

February 7, 2013
Interior Health sets “A” list, launches initiative to attract physicians  (Kamloops Daily News)
Twelve Interior B.C. communities or hospitals have been placed on a so-called “A-list” as the Interior Health Authority searches the globe for doctors willing to come to this province.

January 31, 2013
Princeton, B.C., seeks health care crisis solutions (CBC News)
Community leaders in Princeton, BC are meeting with UBC Okanagan researchers to find solutions to its health care problems. Princeton’s ER is currently closed four nights a week and the community is actively seeking to add more primary health care providers to its roster.

January 31, 2013
Forty five additional nurse practitioners hired for B.C.  (BC Government media release)
“Nurse practitioners are a valuable part of our health-care team,” said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. “Adding 45 more nurse practitioner will bolster resources available – particularly in primary and community care settings – to improve access to care. Over the next three years, we will be funding a total of 190 new nurse practitioner positions.”

Several nurse practitioners have been placed in rural settings. Click here to see a complete list of the 45 nurse practitioner placements.

January 17, 2013
Isolated incidents (Doctor’s Review)
Interviews with drs. Braam de Klerk, John Wootton, Trina Larsen-Soles and Michael Jong  who all share the joys and challenges of practising remote medicine in Canada.

January 17, 2013
Nurse practitioners now able to prescribe on P.E.I. (CBC)
Legislation allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe most drugs except narcotics and controlled substances came into effect on P.E.I. Wednesday, but there are still some systems that need to be put in place.

January 9, 2013
Number of Canadian nurses grows by twice labour force rate (CBC)
Canada’s supply of nurses has increased by almost 10 per cent since 2007, growing at twice the rate of the country’s general labour force, according to a new report.

December 11, 2012
Hard fight for nurse practitioner (SaanichNews)
Broadmead Lodge in Saanich is completing a three-year pilot project involving the integration of nurse practitioner Janice Robinson into the on-site health care team. “ I think having a nurse practitioner on site does help with timeliness of care,” says Robinson. “I can get started on antibiotics, discuss a course of action with the family and get blood work going. It prevents people from going to emergency.”

December 3, 2012
New normal in rural health care (Kamloops Daily News)
With physician recruitment a national and even global issue, Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said BC’s rural communities may have to adjust to the idea of centralizing regional surgeries and relying on locum physicians to provide ongoing primary care.

December 3, 2012
Chasing after solutions (Kamloops Daily News)
Reporter Michelle Young profiles the challenges faced by the rural community of Chase, BC in recruiting and, more importantly, retaining family physicians to serve the population of 2,500.

A Kamloops Daily News special report

December 3, 2012
Rural medicine rebranded as ‘edgy’ (Kamloops Daily News)
“Rural med is being rebranded as edgy, challenging and more fun than anything,” says Dr. Stephen Rollheiser, a family physician who practiced in Chase, BC for 27 years. “When I think about the most meaningful, the most terrifying, the most vital stuff I’ve been involved in in my life, it was not here at the hospital, it was me and a couple of ambulance guys trying to cobble something together in the middle of the night.”

December 1, 2012
Rural health’s shifting landscape (Kamloops Daily News)
“The primary-care system in the province needs to look at more collaborative practice environments so not everything revolves around the doctor,” says Dr. Willa Henry, head of the postgraduate program in the University of B.C.’s department of family medicine.

December 1, 2012
Sorry, nobody’s home (Kamloops Daily News)
Reporter Cam Fortem’s special report on the challenges facing Ashcroft, BC – a rural community with one remaining family physician.

November 30, 2012
Residency-based program in Kamloops offers hope for the future (Kamloops Daily News)
UBC faculty and local physicians are in the planning stages for a residency program based in Kamloops. The hope is that with exposure to the community and the surrounding rural communities, family physicians will stay in the city to practise.

Part 3 of 3 in a special report on rural health from Daily News reporter Cam Fortems.

November 30, 2012
Online learning fills gaps in rural education (Kamloops Daily News)
“Research has shown if [rural students] train in [a rural] setting, they’re 13 times more likely to settle down in these communities,” says Dr. Willa Henry, program director for UBC’s Department of Family Practice. However, some rural high schools students are finding it difficult to enroll in high level sciences courses to qualify for university.

Learn how Clearwater, BC is creatively addressing these educational challenges to ensure their students get the education needed to move forward into a career in health care. Part 2 of 3 in a special report on rural health from Daily News reporter Cam Fortems.

November 30, 2012
Ambulance delay shows fragile state of rural health-care system in Clearwater (Kamloops Daily News)
Clearwater, like many of BC’s rural communities, is facing health care staffing challenges. Part 1 of 3 in a special report on rural health from Daily News reporter Cam Fortems.

November 30, 2012
Medical imaging services confirmed for Oceanside Health Centre (VIHA news release)
Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and privately-owned Parksville X-Ray have reached an agreement to transfer ownership and operations of the latter’s medical imaging services to VIHA. Delivery of medical imaging services will be fully integrated with the Oceanside Health Centre’s programs and services and electronic health records throughout VIHA when the new centre opens in 2013.

November 28, 2012
Local family doctors working hard to create home-grown solutions ( via The Cowichan Citizen)
In this letter to the editor, Dr. Tom Rimmer, Chair of the Cowichan Valley Divisions of Family Practice, notes that “[w]e are fortunate here in the Cowichan Valley that almost all family physicians have maintained their hospital privileges and continue to care for their patients from ‘cradle to grave.’”

November 19, 2012
New program helps BC family doctors treat mental health challenges in children and youth (BCMA Media Release)
“With this new program, family physicians will be able to better identify and manage problems early on, while working with community partners to provide a ‘wrap-around’ system of care that goes beyond the doctor’s office,” says Dr. Shelley Ross, BCMA President.

November 15, 2012
Doctor supply rising but outpaced by population growth (CBC)
Canada’s supply of doctors continues to outpace population growth but the numbers don’t reflect the true picture, experts say.

November 12, 2012
Native physician program at UBC ahead of schedule (The Globe and Mail)
The program is on target to meet its original goal – graduating a total of 50 doctors by 2020 – six years early.

November 12, 2012
First Nations could help fill doctor shortages in rural BC: minister (CKNW AM 980)
B.C.’s health minister, Margaret MacDiarmid, says First Nations could play a big role to help fill the shortage of health care workers.

November 11, 2012
Prescription opioid deaths as high as drunk driving deaths, say BC officials (Vancouver Sun)
CRANBROOK – People in southeast British Columbia are dying from prescription opioid overdoses at the same rate that they’re dying in drunk driving accidents.

The findings are contained in a research project conducted by medical health officers at the Interior Health Authority and the BC Coroners Service.

November 5, 2012
B. C. announces new colorectal cancer screening program (BC Government media release)
VICTORIA – British Columbia is launching a co-ordinated provincewide colorectal cancer screening program to assist in early detection of the disease and help save lives, Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid announced today.

“This new program recognizes that family physicians are key influencers for patients in deciding to participate in cancer screening programs and physicians are also well equipped to speak to their patients about risk factors and prevention.”

November 2, 2012
Resident doctors in BC get new four-year deal, 2.8% wage hike (The Province)
Doctors who work as resident physicians in B.C. hospitals have ratified a new four-year contract with the provincial government. The agreement replaces one that expired in 2010 and provides a pay hike of 2.8 per cent that takes effect in stages in January and April of next year.

November 1, 2012
Health Minister encourages home births in low-risk cases (Victoria Times-Colonist)
Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, the former president of the B.C. Medical Association, is encouraging women with low-risk pregnancies to plan their deliveries at home if that’s what they’d like, citing B.C. research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2009 as the safety standard.

October 11, 2012
Nurse practitioner’s role expanded in B.C. (CBC News)
Nurse practitioners are being given expanded roles in B.C. hospitals that will allow them to admit and discharge patients.

October 10, 2012,
Canadian health care not meeting needs of rural maternity care providers, patients (College of Family Physicians media release)
OTTAWA (Ontario) – Rural maternity care services in Canada are under stress due to reduced or eliminated service levels leading to increased stress, personal costs and negative delivery outcomes. New approaches are needed to support collaborative, integrated, and safe care for mothers and newborns in rural Canada, as well as for the physicians and other health professionals who serve in rural and remote communities. This is the finding addressed in the new Joint Position Paper on Rural Maternity Care issued today by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, the Canadian Association of Midwives, and the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women’s Health Nurses.

October 2, 2012
Attracting small-towns docs a challenge
The federal government of Canada’s plan to forgive student debt for family doctors intending to practise in rural communities will help increase the pool of rural physicians but a larger suite of solutions is required, say educators and rural doctors.

September 29, 2012
New program to help strengthen rural health care (Campbell River Mirror)
The program, which begins on Oct 1, will help fund locums for general practitioners who provide core anesthesia services for hospitals in rural and remote communities. It will allow these physicians to apply for up to 10 days of locum coverage per year.

September 11, 2012
Collaborative maternity program results in fewer C-sections, shorter hospital stays: UBC/CFRI research  (UBC media release)
A program delivering collaborative maternity care (involving a team with midwives, family physicians, nurses, and doulas) resulted in fewer caesarean sections, shorter average hospital stays and higher breastfeeding rates for mothers, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Child & Family Research Institute. This study was published in the Canadian Medical Assocation Journal.

July 8, 2012
Book examines why rural women have unique health problems (
Rural Women’s Health
claims to be the first major overview of why women in small communities have unique health problems, and what to do about it. It was co-written by three Canadian professors – Beverly Leipert (Western University), Belinda Leach (University of Guelph) and, Wilfreda Thurston (University of Calgary).

July 3, 2012
Nakusp offers house as an incentive to lure doctor
(CBC News via
The threat of a closed emergency room and fierce competition for doctors has led the village of Nakusp to buy a house so that a physician considering 10 job offers can live there with his family.
Listen to an interview with the new physician in Nakusp on CBC radio

May 31, 2012
B.C. funds more nurse practitioner positions (BC Government press release)
RICHMOND – The government is funding 190 nurse practitioner (NP) positions over the next three years to provide better access to health care for British Columbian families.

The $22.2-million Nurse Practitioners for BC (NP4BC) initiative will begin this fall. NP4BC will provide opportunities for existing nurse practitioners, as well as new graduate nurse practitioners, to be fully integrated in the health-care system. The majority will be working in primary health-care settings, which can include public health offices, medical clinics, residential care or other community settings.

The 190 positions will support existing qualified nurse practitioners who have not been able to secure a nurse practitioner position, as well as ensuring that opportunities are there for newly-qualified nurse practitioners graduating in the future. Currently, 225 nurse practitioners are registered with the College of Registered Nurses of B.C. About 72 are presently not practising within their chosen profession, with the expectation of another 30 graduates this year.