A GP for Me in the East Kootenay: update
The East Kootenay Division of Family Practice brings together family doctors from Cranbrook, Creston, Fernie, Kimberley, Golden, Invermere, Elkford, and Sparwood. Together with health authority, municipal, and community partners, we’re working to improve local health care.
A GP for Me is a province-wide initiative funded jointly by the Government of BC and Doctors of BC. A GP for Me aims to help more people get a family doctor, and to better support people with complex health needs.
Our division’s plans were created to meet the specific needs of East Kootenay communities. We’re working to improve local access to family doctors now and in the future with a combination of activities created to meet the needs of East Kootenay as a whole and the distinct needs of the individual rural communities that make up our region.
We’re helping East Kootenay doctors include other health care providers in team-based care in their practices. When other professionals work in your family doctor’s office as part of a team, you can benefit from more in-depth care, especially if you have complex or chronic health challenges. Sharing care also reduces the demand on doctors’ time and makes it possible for them to see more patients. Social Workers and a Life Skills Worker are working with family doctors in Creston, the Elk Valley and Cranbrook as part of the A GP for Me strategy.
Support is also being given to all family doctors who want to find efficiencies in their practices that will allow them more time with patients.
We’ve developed both short and long-term recruitment strategies to help make sure we have enough doctors to care for our population.
While we’re actively recruiting across our region, our initial focus has been to attract new doctors to Cranbrook. A GP for Me is also helping us recruit more locums; doctors who can fill in when your family doctor is away. Five family physicians have joined Cranbrook clinics since initiating the Physician Shortage Task Force and the Red Carpet Committee, a community collaboration.
We have launched a health promotion program in Kimberley to help people to be as healthy as possible – whether living with a chronic condition optimizing wellness. We’re beginning with broad community engagement with education, activities and events to help people make the healthiest choices. As well, we are connecting and coordinating existing community resources.
Given the significant provincial investment in A GP for Me, and the desire of all partners to develop innovative approaches to increasing the capacity of the primary health care system, evaluation has been a cornerstone of the project throughout its implementation.
A key component of understanding the project’s impact is in hearing directly from patients about their experiences with primary health care in the East Kootenay. This data will be gathered in part through a Patient Survey, which will be available for four weeks in the medical clinics in Creston, Cranbrook and Fernie from September 9 to October 7. The Patient Survey will take about 10-15 minutes for patients to complete. Patients who complete the survey may enter into a draw for an iPad Mini, which will be awarded in mid-October.
If you would like to learn more about the East Kootenay Division of Family Practice or A GP for Me, please refer to our website: www.divisionsbc.ca/east-kootenay.