Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice

Volume 3 - July 2016

End of an era for United Church Health Services, Dr. Peter Newbery
Dr. Bruce Perry presents at Mount Waddington
Strengthening the rural voice through a rural divisions network




Rural preceptors urgently needed

In response to a shortfall of rural preceptors for the Year 3 MD rural clerkship program at UBC, there is an urgent call out to all rural physicians to consider taking Year 3 MD students for a rural clerkship this coming year. For more information contact ​Kathryn Hill at or 604-827-4194. ​Download a rotation form >

Looking for locum opportunities?

You’re needed in Ashcroft and Clearwater. Find out more.

Hats off…

To Dr. Jel Coward and all those receiving Awards of Excellence in Rural Medicine at the recent RECC.


Save the date

Mark your calendars. The 2017 Rural Locum Forum is scheduled for Saturday, February 25 in Nanaimo.

Obstetrics update

This two-day course in Vancouver on October 20 & 21, 2016, may be suitable for you even if you don’t attend births. It provides updates on early pregnancy, postpartum and newborn care. Dr. Aaron Caughey, MD, PhD, from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland is the keynote speaker at the event.

Pregnancy Passport helps moms-to-be prepare for birth/baby

A Pregnancy Passport is now available to pregnant women. The booklet includes information on the care women can expect during pregnancy, birth and the first weeks after baby is born. It also includes a place to record check ups and test results, as well as goals and questions. 
Developed by Perinatal Services BC, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and health authorities, the booklet can be ordered by health care providers through the Perinatal Services BC website.


To Rural & Remote Division’s Jenny Chiu and family, on the safe arrival of their firstborn—a daughter, Olivia—on June 30, 2016.


We've joined the Twitter community! Follow us for the latest rural health news and events in BC @RuralRemoteDFP.

Simplified billing guide now available online

The Society of General Practitioners of BC has revamped its online billing guide to make it more user friendly. Feedback so far has been positive. Check it out.

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End of an era for United Church Health Services, outgoing medical director Dr. Peter Newbery

Sometimes, endings lead to exciting new beginnings. 

Just ask Dr. Peter Newbery. His retirement as medical director of Hazelton’s Wrinch Memorial Hospital on April 1, 2016, is just the latest in a lifetime of new beginnings. 

His departure coincides with the end of the United Church Health Services Society’s (UCHSS) history as health care provider in the area, which officially handed over the reins to Northern Health on the same day.

Social worker to minister…
Dr. Newbery began his professional life nearly five decades ago, not as a doctor, but as a social worker. He couldn’t have known then that his future career would be inextricably tied to the UCHSS—and that he would eventually co-write a book on the organization’s history in Canada.

Turns out social work wasn’t quite the right fit for the 20-something, and after getting his Doctorate of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology, he moved to Alert Bay, Ontario, where he worked as a United Church Minister. There, he earned his pilot’s license so he could fly the church’s floatplane to the remote communities in the parish. 

"We had the kind of practice where if I was on-call and a patient went into labor and needed a C-section, everybody would show up at 2 a.m. to help out."   - Dr. Peter Newbery

To the front lines of rural medicine…
But he had another calling: “I was inspired by a family doctor I know to look at rural medicine,” he says. 

Off he went to McMaster University, where he graduated from medical school in 1976. He completed a fellowship in the College of Family Physicians two years later, and that same year settled in Hazelton, attracted by the United Church’s involvement in the region’s health services and by the remote location. “I loved the idea of doing the kind of rural medicine that had first inspired me to become a doctor,” he says, “with opportunities to do anesthesia, obstetrics and surgery.”

One of his fondest memories is of working as part of a team of five partners. “We had the kind of practice where if I was on-call and a patient went into labour and needed a C-section, everybody would show up at 2 a.m. to help out. It was gratifying to work with a truly collegial group of people, where the mutual support was a given.” 

To directorial debut…
Fast-forward a decade to 1987 and Dr. Newbery opened yet another door as director of the UCHSS. At the time, the Society operated five hospitals, eight medical clinics and employed hundreds of health care workers. 

He kept one foot on the frontlines of rural doctoring with a part-time practice, but his administrative duties as director grew ever more demanding and after a decade, he traded his own practice with a few locums to keep his hand in. 

As if all that wasn’t enough, Dr. Newbery was also a clinical professor of medicine at the University of BC, and he has been extensively involved in the training of rural physicians across Canada and internationally. 

Leaving a legacy
The opportunity to contribute to the quality of life in rural communities is one of his biggest satisfactions, he says. “Some of these communities are quite isolated and it’s not always easy to attract people. I’ve managed to recruit about 50 rural physicians, 600 locums, several outpost nurses, and five dentists to smaller communities around the country.”

Because of his knack for recruiting, he was invited to be part of a Northern Health task force. Its recommendations led to the establishment of the provincial locum service and Health Match BC, free services matching health professionals with provincial health care facilities. “That outcome is one of my proudest moments,” says Dr. Newbery.

He became medical director of Wrinch Memorial Hospital in 2009. It was a position he held until his retirement and the hospital’s transfer to Northern Health this past April, when he joined health workers, senior Northern Health staff, UCHSS board members, volunteers and local dignitaries to recognize the Society’s contribution to local health care. 

It’s a career that has earned Dr. Newbery many honors, including the Order of Canada in 2003 and the Order of British Columbia in 2004. 

Perhaps the biggest honor, though, is that both Newbery children have followed in their parents’ footsteps. Their son, Mark, went into teaching like his mom, Lyn; he’s now principal of Hazelton Secondary School. Their daughter, Sarah, went into rural medicine in Ontario and was recently elected Family Physician of the year in that province.

Moving on
So what’s next for Dr. Newbery after such a long and illustrious professional life? 

“Well, my wife and I aren’t really cruise people,” says Dr. Newbery. “A few years back I took on the responsibility of raising $17 million for a recreation centre and arena in Hazelton so I’ll continue with that.” 

What will he do to relax? “I’ve got four active grandchildren I’d like to spend time with,” he says. “And because I’ve had to give up my pilot’s license, I’ll dust off the Harley Davidson and tool around on that for a while.”

Clearly, while Dr. Newbery’s work life may be over, his energy, passion, and desire to make a difference are as strong as ever.
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Leaving no community behind: Mount Waddington Action Team brings child mental health expert to northern Vancouver Island

Organize it…and they will come. And that’s exactly what they did.

This past April, more than 200 people from Port Hardy, Alert Bay, Sointula—and remotely, from Bella Coola—took in a free presentation by children’s mental health expert Dr. Bruce Perry.

A Senior Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy, a not-for-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University in Chicago, Dr. Perry is also a bestselling author on childhood trauma and mental health.

Health care professionals, educators, and parents and foster parents turned out for Dr. Perry’s presentation, called “Born for Love: Bringing relational richness back into the lives of children,” which he gave to three different audiences in three separate events.

Dr. Bruce Perry (centre, upper row) with staff and children from
Gwa'sala Nakwaxda'xw School in Port Hardy.

"We're on the northern tip of Vancouver Island and we often get overlooked. By bringing Dr. Perry here, we were really saying to our community 'you're worth it.'"  - Tracy Hamilton, Project Lead

The Mount Waddington Local Action Team (MWLAT) sponsored the events, in partnership with the Courtenay Child Development association.

MWLAT is one of 64 teams across the province—12 of them supported by the Rural and Remote Division—working on behalf of Shared Care’s Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative. The Collaborative’s mandate is to increase the number of children, youth and their families receiving timely access to integrated mental health and substance use services and supports.

MWLAT project lead Tracy Hamilton helped organize the events. “We have four First Nation communities here,” she says, “who have suffered from colonialism and relocation, which has had an intergenerational impact, and one of our goals was to create a community of trauma-informed people.”

Based on feedback, the presentation has moved the community one step closer to achieving that goal. “Dr. Perry talked about how the brain is impacted by trauma and how important relationships are to children who are experiencing difficulties—whether within family or with a teacher or a coach. The response showed that an important takeaway from the presentation was that despite the complexity of the problem, the answers don’t have to be complicated or cost millions of dollars,” says Hamilton.

There was another message too, not directly related to the presentation, but equally important, says Hamilton. “We’re on the northern tip of Vancouver Island and we often get overlooked. By bringing Dr. Perry here, we were really saying to our community ‘you’re worth it.’”

Next steps are to keep the momentum going, to form cohorts of learners on the subject who can identify resources where people can learn more about the broader philosophy behind Dr. Perry’s presentation. “It’s about the transfer of knowledge—and the empowerment of a community,” Hamilton says.
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Strengthening the rural voice through a rural divisions network

When it comes to having a voice, there’s definitely strength in numbers. That thinking was behind an all-day dialogue to discuss the idea of a rural divisions network, during a recent provincial Divisions event in North Vancouver. 

The aim of such a network would be to strengthen partnerships and to share knowledge and learning among rural Divisions. 

“For example,” says Rebecca Lindley, who led the plenary session, along with Ray Markham from Northern Interior Rural Division and RCCbc, “there have been so many successful A GP For Me projects, but very little sharing of that knowledge across rural communities. There’s also a gap in knowledge about where each of the many players fits within the broader rural practice landscape. A network could address both those issues.” 

The goal of this first meeting was to set a rural agenda and identify common areas of interest. 

“…people stayed the whole day. These are busy people with lots on their plates and that’s testament both to the quality of the discussion and the level of interest.”   - Dr. Rebecca Lindley, Rural & Remote Division

A good part of the discussion centred on primary care homes from a rural perspective. Participants agreed with the idea of rural doctors providing leadership in primary care homes, given they are generalists and rural health care is typically team-based. There was also consensus around the need to optimize Electronic Medical Records and telehealth. 

Other discussions included physician wellness, rural preceptor recruitment, and the facilities engagement initiative from a rural perspective. 

Participants in the rural session of a recent provincial Divisions event
explore the idea of a rural divisions network.

Attendance showed interest in the idea of forming a network was high, says Lindley. “This event was well attended, with people from around the province and from various organizations. We had representatives from 16 divisions, the Ministry of Health, Northern Health, the RCCbc, the BCCFP, and the FPSC. And people stayed for the whole day. These are busy people with lots on their plates and that’s testament both to the quality of the discussion and the level of interest.” 

Next steps are to define concrete actions for moving forward and to create mechanisms for sharing successes and knowledge across the divisions serving rural communities. “We’ll start,” says Lindley, “by establishing a working group to explore what a rural divisions network might actually look like.” 

The Rural and Remote Division would like to thank Paula Carr, Physician Engagement Lead, and the Provincial Divisions Office for supporting this event. 
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