The Need: Easing our anxiety about access to healthcare

Most of us try to do the right things to stay healthy. Whatever our age, when we’re healthy, we can pursue our dreams and our purpose. When we’re healthy we’re able to make a difference for our family, our friends, our community.

But inevitably, accidents or illnesses will interrupt our routines and try to defeat us. Living on an island increases the challenges of taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.

Forty-one per cent of us feel that our health is at risk because we live on Bowen. Approximately 51% of us have delayed seeking medical care because services are not available on Bowen. And nearly half of us who delayed seeking care, feel the delay made our problem worse.

“I ignored chest pain knowing the difficulty I would have getting treatment.”“My husband has had to wait until he could take time away from work to seek care because he couldn’t get his needs met on the weekend on the island.”

“When we weren’t sure if my daughter had broken her ankle, we went in to Caulfield clinic on a Friday evening (myself plus 3 kids) and chose not to go to emergency until the next day because the doctor wasn’t sure if it was broken and we would have had to stay overnight. We went back the next day to emergency and it was not only broken, but needed surgery!”

“Inconvenience of going off Bowen to get diagnosis/treatment has meant that I have waited some times to see if an infection or ailment is going to get worse before going off island.”

These statistics and experiences were captured in a Bowen Health Needs Assessment Survey conducted in 2015 by the Bowen Island Health Centre Society. The Society’s survey demonstrated that Bowen residents:

  • Feel anxiety about the capacity for health care
  • Feel frustration at the barriers to access,
  • Fear their health is at risk because of where they live,
  • Want to age-in-place on Bowen Island,
  • Want better access to and more health care services on Bowen.

Some health agencies recommend one primary-care physician per 1200 residents. Bowen’s population of 3680 is currently served by the equivalent of only one full-time physician on-island. With no urgent care available, Bowen’s lack of health care services is a major problem for our close-knit community.

In addition to the Bowen Health Needs Assessment Survey, health care on Bowen has been identified as a priority for Bowen in the last two Vital Conversations conducted by the Bowen Island Community Foundation.  Also, in the 2017 workshop held by the Municipality regarding the use of Bowen’s community lands, participants strongly believed that a health centre facility would be an excellent use of part of these lands.

Without access to health care when we need it, we can’t feel totally safe and secure and can’t fully enjoy this magical place we call home.

The Research