Gabriola Island had a similar challenge. They decided to build a community health centre.
Gabriola’s Community Health Centre has been a great success. But in the beginning, there were skeptics. Some Gabriola residents asked, “What if you build it and people continue to use their primary care services off island? Will it make a difference to our health care?” Before their clinic was built only a small percentage of Gabriola residents got their care on island. Once it was up and running, 87% of residents obtained their primary and urgent care on island.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) conducted a study that showed the number of residents using island physicians more than doubled from 36% in 2005 to 73% in 2008 once the clinic was built. Also 75% of patients who had been transferred to the mainland before, were now being treated on island at the clinic. (From: Our Clinic: Visionary Health Care, Fundraising & Community Building on Gabriola Island, by Bruce Mason, 2012.)
Not only did the centre provide health care improvements for residents, it also had a positive economic impact on the community.
“There was an immediate impact on the emergency room in Nanaimo. There were estimates that as many as 90 per cent of visits to the Nanaimo Regional Hospital had been unnecessary and that we were saving more than $200,000 a year– as well as lives.”