The past year has been full of opportunity and challenges, ending with satisfying achievements and new possibilities. This has been achieved through the work of the Co-op’s Member-Owners, outstanding partners and the encouragement of the Creating Community Wellness Society.
Many volunteers have worked to ensure that co-op membership applications are processed, potential patients are added to the ‘I want an NP’ list, information is organized, and then sent out via email, Facebook and Twitter – thank you! Providing these services and preparing for the future has taken organization and effort by many people. Moving ahead we will continue to rely on the generosity of our member-owners and others in the community who donate financially through the CCWS, and contribute their skills and expertise. And we will continue to greatly appreciate in-kind gifts such as Chris and Krista’s ‘Our Gift’ print which has contributed to our fundraising efforts.
We have been very fortunate in that support has been committed or confirmed by the Ministry of Health (thanks to the leadership of the BC Association of Community Health Centres), the Cook St Village Activity Centre, Centennial United Church, Victoria Foundation and all of you who have contributed fundraising ideas, finances and a whole range of work to bring these services into our community. You have provided the Governance, Management and Administration of our volunteer-supported co-operative.
In 2019 we continued our ongoing work, prepared to reinstate some previous programs and also undertook new initiatives:
Monthly Wellness Clinics: This is probably the most important service for our Member-Owners is the long-standing program of Monthly, members-only, by-donation, Wellness Clinics. The core leaders of this group are Dacia Moss, Howard Dieno, Bev Thompson and Jan Yoder, with others Wellness Practitioners participating every month. The donations collected build the Health Access Fund. We have redesigned the website to provide better visibility for the Wellness Practitioners.
Health and Wellness Education Programs: For several years we delivered excellent programs based on the Social Determinants of Health as identified by the World Health Organization. We continued these initiatives individually and on behalf of the Co-op. Several of us make dollar and time contributions to improving air and water quality in our area. Some members dedicate many hours per week focusing on providing nutritious food, and reducing food waste. Others are very active on groups focused on housing. And we all support each other in many friendly ways. These factors: breathable air, clean water, nutritious food, social connections and safe housing are the essential for our well-being, our health. We work to encourage and act on understanding of these factors, and of the steps we can take for our own health and for community wellness.
We have been developing partnerships to restart the Choices and Hans Kai programs which support participants in strengthening their health and wellness knowledge and skills. We are also looking at two new programs: one to ensure that VHC practitioners have a good understanding of each others’ expertise, and one to enable member-owners to access a range of expertise from several health and wellness practitioners.
In 2020, The VHC Board and Membership expects to:
- Continue to benefit from the Monthly Wellness Clinics. We plan to look at various options for space, for enlarging the program, for ensuring that any costs incurred by the Practitioners are fully reimbursed, for providing enhanced opportunities for publicity.
- Bring back our Health and Wellness Education Programs and add new programs. These will range from information about the Social Determinants of Health, as identified by the World Health Organization, bringing back the Choices and Hans Kai programs, introduce the Practitioners’ Skill Exchange and Group Treatment.
- Develop programs that will be a benefit for members, generate revenue for the Co-op and increase business for the partner organization. We are looking for project leaders and committee members to help develop sustainable programming in our community.
- Provide Nurse Practitioner services. We are continuing to advertise widely, contact everyone we know in the sector, and raise funds. You already know that, through the BC Association of Community Health Centres, we applied to the Ministry of Health for funding for salaries for a Nurse Practitioner and Medical Office Assistant. You also know that for consistent Primary Health Care we need to hire an Nurse Practitioner in our community for at least two years. Even with the funding, we continue to face several challenges:
- We received funding for only one year of salaries
- There are at least 15 jobs on the South Island competing for every Nurse Practitioner available
- As our Nurse Practitioner will be in a very small practice, we must hire an individual with experience, who is comfortable working independently
- To save costs, we are hoping that some of the many Family Physicians retiring from practice would donate exam room furniture and equipment or that we would be granted access to the equipment in the Island Health store or spare items.
On a positive note, we have been fundraising, building partnerships, advertising and achieving good results and are ready to hire a Nurse Practitioner. Stay tuned for updates on our NP and please contact us if you have time, skills or funds to contribute to our ongoing and upcoming projects. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website: victoriahealthcooperative.com
Vanessa Hammond, Chair
Victoria Health Co-op