Beyond a Family Practice: The Sun Peaks Community Health Centre
That’s how Dr. Shane Barclay describes the Sun Peaks Community Health Centre (SPCHC), which opened its doors on December 11, 2017 and has now been open for one year. It’s been a positive year. Dr. Shane Barclay has been working full time at the centre since it opened. Laura Bantock, the Executive Director of the Health Centre, was instrumental in setting up the clinic and is responsible for its continued operations. Dr. Barclay and Laura are joined by Dr. Chip Bantock, who recently started working there two days a week; Dr. Harpreet Kelly, who typically works in the clinic a few days a month is currently away on maternity leave; two residents, Dr. Signy Frnak and Dr. Leandra Wellmeier; and two medical office assistants, Leigh Kolodka and Sara Payette. All together they have a combined century of experience.
In one short year, the Sun Peaks Community Health Centre has already had a huge impact on the municipality’s population. The health centre provides longitudinal care for the 850 permanent residents and 600 patients attached from 8-1-1. They have patients from across the region including Heffley Creek, Rayleigh, Louis Creek, and Kamloops. The clinic has allowed people living rurally to continue to do so for longer. Dr. Barclay said, “It changes the ability of people who live here to stay here and helps reduce the burden on Kamloops.”
To add to that, there are 1,000 seasonal workers for the winter and over 6,000 visitors annually to Sun Peaks, many of which require healthcare access. The team at the SPCHC are able to provide advanced access for their patients to meet the needs of the panel. Urgent concerns can be dealt with quickly, kids can be seen same day, and the clinic stays open late when necessary. One patient called it a “game changer for my health.”
The facility is brand new and conveniently located next to the Annex (the renovated Bento’s Day Lodge). They’re currently open Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 1:00-5:00 p.m., at least for ski season. Being open during the day means better communication with the hospital, specialists, and other community resources, including pharmacy. They have a system where prescriptions are faxed to a pharmacy in Kamloops and the medications are couriered to the clinic at Sun Peaks the next day. The pharmacy counsels patients over the phone and charges a $5 courier fee. The same courier also takes specimens to Life Labs. This service has proved to be incredibly convenient for patients.
Currently there are two family practice residents who work with Dr. Barclay and Dr. Bantock. They are getting a broad range of experience including dealing with suturing and biopsies. Dr. Barclay, who also teaches rural emergency medicine, is inviting all the family practice residents to come to Sun Peaks for an education session on shoulder dislocations. In addition to that, there’s an upcoming conference on Procedural Dermatology for Primary Care.
Education is also essential for the general public. A CPR course is being offered, as well as a session on understanding recreational drugs. Sexual health clinics are hosted once a month and a mental health worker comes to the clinic every Wednesday. Having a mental health worker join the team has been a huge benefit and the doctors can tell you more than one story about reduced hospital admissions due to this service.
All this wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and drive of the Sun Peaks community. They fundraised and advocated for the facility for years and feel a sense of personal investment. One patient cried when the centre opened, “I’m so happy to have a doctor for our kids,” she said. The team really is a part of the community too. Most of them live at Sun Peaks and love it there. They recently took part in pub trivia evening (and lost!). They are as heavily invested as the rest of the community in ensuring the SPCHC thrives.
What’s next for the team at Sun Peaks? If they’re not already busy enough, they have created a treatment room for suturing casting and they have a slit lamp. Moving forward, they’ll be adding sim lab and a laser to be able to offer more services. When asked what’s most rewarding about working at the Sun Peaks Community Health Centre, Dr. Bantock laughed and said, “Being able to ski to work!” Dr. Barclay responded, “The staff - it’s a great team. We feel like we are making a difference for these patients.”