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New clinic in Port Hardy part of rural health care innovation

Accessible health and wellness in Mount Waddington was the theme today at the ribbon-cutting and First Nations blessing celebrating the completion of the new Port Hardy Primary Health Care Centre building.

“By providing services in a patient-centered primary setting, we’re helping reduce demands on Port Hardy Hospital’s emergency department and offering easily accessible care,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Today’s announcement follows the government’s commitment to ensuring timely and appropriate access to rural health care for the families of the Mt. Waddington area.”

The health care centre, located at the north end of the Port Hardy Hospital property, will be fully operational by spring 2015. Primary health and some community care services will be consolidated in one convenient location.

“The Mount Waddington Regional Hospital District is pleased to partner in this project that will significantly benefit the whole region,” said Regional District Chair Dave Rushton. “It is an important addition that will support access to essential care services and the overall health of our residents.”

The centre will house an integrated primary health care team including physicians, nurse practitioners and staff providing overall care coordination for clients. There will also be space for visiting medical specialists and visiting community practitioners such as a regional dietitian, chronic disease management educator, Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Substance Use staff.

“On behalf of Island Health, our partners and all the people who will use this facility, I would like to thank everyone who helped to envision, design and build the new Port Hardy Primary Health Care Centre,” said Don Hubbard, Island Health Board Chair. “It was an outstanding community-led effort.”

The project is the result of Island Health’s ongoing commitment to supporting accessible, culturally safe and sustainable health care services for Mount Waddington area residents. Island Health worked in partnership with the Mount Waddington Health Services Stabilization Working Group to develop and implement the centre as part of its strategy to build a sustainable health care system and improve the health of local residents.

The Mount Waddington Health Services Stabilization Working Group—now known as the Mount Waddington Collaborative Working Group (CWG)—was established to develop, along with Island Health, a community-led plan to strengthen and stabilize health services in Mount Waddington. The CWG includes representatives from the Mount Waddington Health Network, First Nations, Regional District of Mount Waddington, municipalities, physicians and Island Health.

“This is an important day for everyone in Mount Waddington,” said Dr. David Whittaker, CWG Chair. “Without robust primary care, the health care system cannot provide you with what you need. It is our hope that this new building provides the catalyst for integrated and collaborative primary health care to flourish. We look forward to continuing to work with our communities to ensure improved health care delivery.”

The cost of the project is approximately $2.6 million, with Island Health providing $1.84 million and the Mount Waddington Regional Hospital District contributing $760,000.

Construction began in May 2014 and in a few short months, the property was transformed into a modern, single-level, 482-square-metre (5183-square-foot) building. The centre was completed on schedule and on budget by Norkan Construction, a Port McNeill company. The majority of the sub-contractors who worked on the project were also local companies.

“The new centre is a great asset for the community,” said Hank Bood, District of Port Hardy Mayor. “The primary and community care services easily accessed here will help residents stay healthy, get better and manage ongoing illnesses.”

The enhanced access it offers is also expected to reduce demand for walk-in services at the Port Hardy Hospital emergency department. Clients will be able to get non-emergency medical conditions dealt with in an appropriate, non-emergency setting.

“The centre’s close proximity to the hospital makes it practical for the care providers who will access both locations,” said Alison Mitchell, Director of health services in Mount Waddington. “The opportunity to work in a new, integrated facility with an excellent collaborative team of care providers will also help to attract physicians and other health professionals to Mount Waddington.”

The new Port Hardy Primary Health Care Centre is the first step in a phased approach to support the delivery of fully integrated primary care services to residents in the Mount Waddington region. Fully integrated care will allow clients and their families to access a broader range of services in one location and will promote increased collaboration among multi-disciplinary care providers.

– Contributed by Island Health.

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