Sicamous has been recognized for its commitment to community healthcare.
The Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCBC) honoured the District of Sicamous with a Rural BC Community Award, recognizing the work and dedication council and staff, health-care professionals and community members have put in to keep health care localized.
The awards ceremony was held June 2 in Whistler. Sicamous Councillor Pam Beech and Eagle Valley Community Support Society executive director Janet McLean Senft attended, as well as Karen Eastland, the Community Health Centre’s manager.
An RCCBC press release states recipients of the community award are “selected for developing innovative and collaborative solutions to local health-care issues,” and explains Sicamous’ response to a shortage of doctors the district has faced in recent years inspired the nomination.
The district first took community health care into internal operation in 2021 when Sicamous’ only family physician, Dr. Jack Beech, announced his retirement. The district purchased Beech’s business and began the transition from a physician-operated clinic to a community health centre.
The district took on all related costs and duties, including hiring staff, medical services billing and administration work, and began trying to recruit doctors to serve the area’s many patients.
“As a rural community with no public transportation options, the impact of losing access to health care would have been catastrophic,” said Mayor Colleen Anderson in the RCCBC release. “Without a solution, Sicamous would have found itself in the precarious position of not being able to care for its predominately senior population or encourage families to live and stay in Sicamous.”
RCCBC said the community-run model and collaborative environment was attractive to health-care professionals and the district was able to recruit physicians and a nurse practitioner.
“During its first year of operation the patient panel increased by 23 per cent, scheduled office visits increased by 27 per cent, and over 1,000 walk-in patients were seen by a physician and received care,” reads the release.
The award also recognizes the district’s work on the Shuswap Healing Centre project, intended to offer more Interior Health services as well as Indigenous healing practices and holistic medicine in Sicamous.