Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice

Volume 6 - May 2017

Primary Care Home for Remote North Vancouver Island: Enhancing Access Through Telehealth
3rd Annual Rural Locum Forum Report



Your Input Matters

Billing Webinars

Rural and Remote Division will be offering more billing webinars in partnership with the Society of General Practitioners (SGP) and would like your input to topics of most interest to you.  We invite you to complete this brief survey  that shouldn’t take longer than three minutes. Thank you in advance -- please click here to start the survey.


Tools & Resources

The Visiting Specialist Toolkit.  
The Salt Spring Chapter has developed a planning tool to help communities assess their ability to bring specialists closer to home. The Visiting Specialist Toolkit is designed to help frame conversations with local GPs and specialists, and to plan for what a visiting specialist clinic might look like in local areas. For more information, contact Janine Gowans, Chapter Coordinator at

Pathways is Coming to our members.
Pathways is an online resource that provides family physicians and their office staff quick access to current and accurate referral information, including wait times and areas of expertise of specialists and specialty clinics. Pathways can also provide access to hundreds of patient and physician resources, as well community service and allied health information that is categorized and searchable. Stay tuned for details.  



Rural Health Conference May 12-13 in Prince George.

The BC Rural Health Conference (formerly RECC conference) is an annual CME/CPD event that brings together BC’s rural healthcare learners and practitioners for learning sessions, hands-on workshops, and networking. Program & Registration

Division Retreat June 15-16 in Squamish.  

The Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice will be hosting a Division Retreat to bring together Board, other physician leaders, and our operations teams (staff/coordinators) for sharing and planning across our communities.  We hope that you can join us! Contact Kat Brine at


Project Update

Great work Mount Waddington CYMHSU Local Action Team! 
Congratulations and thank you to Mount Waddington’s LAT on its final report and collaborative work over the past two years to increase access to integrated mental health and substance use services for children, youth and their families.  Initiatives included developing a peer support program in schools; building community awareness using a trauma-informed lens with presentations by Dr. Bruce Perry; promoting Indigenous Cultural Training, LearningLinks Modules and Seven Generations for Children Training; providing a physician workshops facilitated by the visiting pediatrician and child psychologist. Read about Mount Waddington’s LAT’s successes along with BC's 63 other Local Action Teams in the Legacy Magazine.

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Primary Care Home for Remote North Vancouver Island: 
Enhancing Access Through Telehealth

"Where patients will see the real benefit is when we’re able to bring in the integrated care model and work with the nurses in the community, being able to attach patients to other allied health professionals, whether it’s diabetic education, occupational therapy or another service – for a lot of these patients, the only connection that they’ve had with the health care system has been a physician and we know that team based care is so important for primary care. Having the ability to bring that team to a patient, even virtually, is going to be a huge bonus,” says Dr. David Whittaker, Physician Lead, NVI, Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice.

The opportunity.

In October 2016, the Rural & Remote Division of Family Practice in collaboration with the Port McNeill Medical Collaborative, First Nations Health Authority and Island Health applied for an initial grant of $75,000 for the development of a plan (up to $500,000) to implement a scalable virtual model for a remote primary care home in Port McNeill on Vancouver Island. 

The Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC) allocated $2.5M for one-time funding to support Virtual Care implementation to enhance the delivery of coordinated care to meet the needs of patients in remote rural communities. 


This issue.

The remote communities of Kyuquot, Sointula, Woss, Kingcome Inlet, Rivers Inlet, Gilford Island, Zeballos, and others located in the Mount Waddington area receive itinerant physician services from the Port McNeill Medical Collaborative -- a clinic that provides clients with improved access to health care and an expanded, broad range of services in one location.

The Mount Waddington communities have a combined population of approximately 14,000 residents with the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation people represent 27% of the population.  

Unfortunately, the health status of these residents is poorer than the rest of Island Health. Problems of addiction and mental health are inescapable and disruptive, and access to the right health services for the right reason at the right time are challenging. Additionally, caregivers are experiencing burnout.

Compared to Island Health as a whole, the Mount Waddington area has a higher birth rate and higher teen birth rate; lower life expectancy; a higher rate of alcohol and tobacco-related hospitalizations; nearly twice the rate of deaths due to alcohol, illicit drug use, suicide, motor vehicle accidents, diabetes and lung cancers; and, similar prevalence of leading chronic conditions including depression, anxiety, hypertension and asthma.

The plan to increase access to primary care services.

It can be put quite simply: Link the physicians working out of the Port McNeill Medical Collaborative to patients residing in the remote communities through virtual care technologies; but it is so much more. 

“Telehealth is a powerful tool but the trick is being very specific and strategic around how it’s utilized,” says Whittaker.

Patti Murphy, Chapter Coordinator, Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice adds, “This initiative represents the creation of an improved model that supports better access that saves time and money for both patients and providers. This initiative will allow practitioners and patients to remove the geographical borders to care. The sky is truly the limit!” 

Progress to date.

“Already, since September 2016, our accomplishments include having our JSC Phase 1 proposal approved, establishing a project steering committee with impressive physician engagement, initiating our work-flow mapping, and a draft project vision,” shares Helen Truran, Project Manager, Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice. 

Challenges identified by the steering committee include the governance model, complexity of primary care for remote populations, the fee-for-service model, and connectivity to some of the smaller communities.

Next steps.

“Broadband connection upgrades are expected to take place in this summer and into early fall and hopefully we will have a good program in place by that time,” says Whittaker.

To learn more about this initiative, contact Helen Truran, Project Manager at

View the ‘Remote Virtual Primary Care Home’ presentation that was delivered at the Quality Forum.

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3rd Annual Rural Locum Forum Report

Did you miss out? Don’t worry. We have you covered! 

The 3rd annual Rural Locum Forum was hosted by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) and Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice (RRDFP) at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo on February 25, 2017.

The event was preceded by an evening networking dinner and brought together a large number of rural locums, residents, recent medical graduates, experienced physicians, rural leaders, and community/organization representatives to explore opportunities for supporting rural locums in sustaining rural health services in British Columbia – needless to say, those who attended were in excellent company.

The forum also included pre- and post-conference opportunities for CME including the ACLS, BLS, CASTED, and The CARE Course; provided opportunities for networking; rural locum resources; and, showcased some of the various ongoing initiatives and success stories across the province.

A big thank you to everyone who attended and also to those who had a hand in hosting the event. 

Click here to read the full summary.

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