Regional District to hire health network coordinator

$160,000 from Island Health will fund position for two years

Island Health is providing the Strathcona Regional District with funding to hire a high-profile, “make or break” position.

The health authority is funding a coordinator for the newly formed Strathcona Community Health Network to the tune of $160,000.

The $80,000, two-year commitment from Island Health was announced to the regional board at last week’s Thursday board meeting.

The funding will pay the coordinator’s salary as well as administrative and other overhead costs incurred by the regional district.

While directors were all in agreement to accept the money, it wasn’t as easy to come to a consensus on how to structure the position.

Directors debated for nearly half an hour on whether or not to keep the position in-house.

Campbell River Director Larry Samson said having the coordinator as an employee of the regional district, albeit on a fixed term contract, would ensure resources stay within the regional district.

“I believe this person should be in-house. When you have a contractor on the outside trying to use the resources within, it makes it difficult,” Samson said. “I also think there needs to be accountability. This person is going to be crucial and needs to be within. I think if it’s a contractor, you don’t have the same level of buy-in.”

Campbell River Director Ron Kerr echoed Samson’s sentiments that the coordinator will be a crucial piece to the Health Network’s success.

“The Health Network is so focused on the person we hire because that person could make or break this,” Kerr said. “The person we pick is going to be our public face, the person out there networking.”

The health network is a partnership between the regional district, Island Health, First Nations and other stakeholders such as the City of Campbell River.

The network was established on June 26, 2015 following a gathering of 150 stakeholders who are working together to address health issues and concerns, such as homelessness and addiction, that are specific to the region.

To date, the health network has been co-facilitated by one staff member from Island Health and one Strathcona Regional District staffer who, over the past year, has contributed roughly one day per week of work time to the health network.

Campbell River Director Andy Adams said he would support hiring a coordinator immediately so that the Health Network can move forward, but only on a contract basis.

“I will support a contract position to get this going right way but I will not support an in-house position,” Adams said. “Every other regional district has done it on a contract basis. We haven’t included it in our financial plan to bring in an employee on to our payroll.”

In the end, the majority of the board agreed with Adams and voted to recruit a contractor coordinator position as a two-year contract. Directors Jim Abram, Noba Anderson, Kerr and Samson were opposed.

There are currently five other community health networks operating up and down the Island. All have their coordinator position provided through an external contractor.