Health network feeling peppy

Partners in the region’s newly formed Community Health Network say it’s an “exciting” time for the program which is aimed at improving healthcare in our region.

Victoria Smith, the Strathcona Regional District’s special projects manager, said the Health Network is making progress around formalizing key partnerships and a governance structure.

“This is a very exciting time for the Community Health Network which has taken some time to hit the ground running,” Smith said, adding that co-chairs have been hired and recruitment of a coordinator is underway.

The Health Network was formed 18 months ago to support the regional district board’s “vision and goal of having high quality health and social care available regionally,” Smith said.

The initiative is a partnership between several stakeholders including the regional district, Island Health, local First Nations and the City of Campbell River, all working together to address the underlying determinants of health in this region.

The Health Network was officially established on June 26, 2015 when 150 people from across the region, all with a vested interest in healthcare, met at a regional forum.

The group determined that the Health Network could take action on several topics including: transportation, housing/homelessness, technology (cell phone and broadband connectivity), food security, child and youth issues including mental health and aging in place, as well as volunteer and caregiver support. The group then met again in November of 2015 to reaffirm its commitment to the Health Network.

Smith said that since then the Health Network is making headway and has recently appointed Nick Chowdhury, North Island representative for the First Nations Health Council, and Cortes Director Noba Anderson as co-chairs of the Health Network. The group is also in the process of recruiting a coordinator, a two-year term employee of the regional district partially funded through a $160,000 grant from Island Health, as well as appointing members to the central governance group.

Liana Sorensen from Island Health said that “many hours from many people have been involved in meeting regularly to develop terms of reference, membership criteria and formalize the job description and hiring arrangements for the coordinator” of the Health Network.

She added that the network is looking to recruit a table of partners, which along with the co-chairs and the future coordinator, will provide the central governance for the network going forward.

The Strathcona Community Health Network is just the latest in a string of similar groups already established on the Island. There are currently five other community health networks operating up and down Vancouver Island.