The Town of Princeton, Area H (RDOS), the Interior Health Authority (IHA), and the Save Our Hospital Coalition (SOHC) held a Princeton Healthcare Community Consultation on Jan. 29 at the Riverside Community Centre.
The purpose of the consultation was to identify challenges facing healthcare in Princeton and area and to collect data that may be used in the development of an improved healthcare model for the community.
The Interior Health Authority (although involved in the partnership and is supportive) and local media did not participate in the consultation as it is research based and stakeholder confidentiality is important to the process.
Fifty stakeholders representing all walks of life and age ranges in Princeton and area as well as other communities were invited to attend the consultation. 40 invited attended and were broken up into four focus groups with a facilitator and asked to comment on or answer the following;
“ – tell us about your experiences with health care, – outline positives in terms of health care, – tell about the challenges and barriers you see and provide concepts, innovations that you think would work.”
Dr. Barbara Pesut from UBC-Okanagan, conducted the consultation. Dr. Pesut has been involved in healthcare since 1982 and worked at Princeton General Hospital and Ridgewood Lodge for several years early in her career. She is presently Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at UBCO and holds a Canada Research Chair in Health, Ethics, and Diversity.
Dr. Pesut’s team will conduct further interviews with stakeholders who were unable to attend the consultation. The data collected from the consultation and interviews will be analyzed by a team of researchers from UBC Okanagan who will prepare a report that will be shared with the community.
A few ideas out of the consultation were shared the next day in a news briefing, chaired by Ed Staples, vice president of Save Our Hospital Coalition.
Councillor Marilyn Harkness spoke of possibilities in broadening the scope of pharmacists and (nurse practitioners – ours currently she said is, “working well and is very much appreciated.”) She also stated that she felt positive about the consultation process. “I know the community wants an instant fix—it will take time, and we are very hopeful.”
Area H Director Brad Hope spoke of the idea of a bus service to connect Princeton and points through to Penticton and the same with Osoyoos and Oliver to Penticton and then on to Kelowna to take patients to specialist appointments. He too, stated that he came away feeling “pleased and positive” about the consultation process.
“We are optimistic about the process – we have positive things to work with,” said Ed Staples. “This is the first step – implementing ideas and working towards satisfying needs.”
In order to clarify community confusion with the groups working on the hospital issues, it was asked “what the difference is between SOHC and the Community Hospital Forum run by members of Save Our Similkameen?”
“The Save Our Hospital Coalition was formed in April to respond directly to the reduced services announced by IHA,” said Staples, “both groups have been working towards the same end.”
Director Hope added, “Everyone is working towards getting a better health care model for our community—it’s not a competition.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Save Our Hospital Coalition and the work they do please visit the website savepgh.ca