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Access to healthcare urgently needed in rural areas, advocacy group says 

A reduction in rural healthcare services across the province has sparked the BC Rural Health Network to appeal to municipal governments across the province about the benefits of membership.

Executive director Paul Adams and Colin Moss appeared as a delegation in front of the RDCK to request their membership to advocate for rural healthcare equity and address the unique challenges facing rural communities. 

Adams says the purpose of approaching the municipalities for membership is to bring the rural voice forward to the government and provide easier access to care. 

“One of the pieces missing from the equation in rural BC is the engagement of community, and bringing the resident’s voice back into policy making,” he says. “We’ve been reaching out to municipalities, and regional districts, to ensure we have a united voice on policy changes.

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“These policy changes affect everyone in BC.”

According to Adams, residents are feeling the pinch when it comes to availability of care and where to access it. As well, people are not able to afford the expense that comes along with obtaining care for their condition.

“For many of us here in the interior we are more fortunate than other places in the province,” he says. “For many living in areas like Fort Nelson, if you get a cancer diagnosis, you are looking at a 16-hour round trip to drive to Prince George and back to seek treatment.

“There are individuals who are not seeking care for their cancer because they can’t afford to get there.”

He says the challenge right now is to make care available to rural communities by enhancing the quality of services in the rural municipalities. Doing this will enhance retention of medical professionals/teams, he says..

“We need to re-enhance services within rural communities,” he says. “We need to enhance surgical centers in the rural communities to bring the skill level of the team care up in those regions and areas.

“This will provide immediate care to those who need it.”

Adams says by not acting now it will cost the government more in the future. 

“The impact of people not getting care is a lot more expensive on the system, then the cost of them having to reach that appointment.”

The RDCK will discuss membership to BCRHN at the next meeting scheduled in February.

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