We recognize that solving the problems we face in the healthcare arena is not going to be easy.
Without casting blame, the roots of today’s problems go back decades. In thinking about how to affect social change, we have been much influenced by the Transition Towns movement.
We especially like how their focus on communities as drivers of social change. Here’s a quote from one of their guides to organizing:
We truly don’t know if this [approach] will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale.
What we are convinced of is this:
if we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late;
if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little;
but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.
The Nova Scotia government has recognized the need to engage community-based organizations as assets in the healthcare crisis. None of us can fix the disparities between urban-centered and rural healthcare compensation, scheduling, or resources. But by organizing activities and advocacy for the value of living and working in a rural community, the people who live in such communities might be able to let the healthcare professionals know they are working in a special place and are deeply appreciated.
On the Eastern Shore, the three communities adjacent to the hospital facilities: Musquodoboit Harbour (Twin Oaks), Middle Musquodoboit (Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital), and Sheet Harbour (Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital) are each working on projects designed to recruit and retain health care professionals to our area.
But none of the projects can be effective without the support and enthusiasm of the people living and working in the region.
In Sheet Harbour, a committee of local folks have been operating as a Community Advisory Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. “We realized we were competing with other communities from around Nova Scotia who had highly professional programs in place for highlighting what they had to offer,” said Greg Cross, who heads the Community Advisory Committee. They are creating a welcoming group for doctors considering practicing in Sheet Harbour, hiring a consultant to do a survey of the community looking for ways to make Sheet Harbour more attractive to internationally trained healthcare professionals, making a video, and attending the Dalhousie Family Physician Retreat, and other job fairs.
Denise VanWychen, the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Community Health Board coordinator, said that in Middle Musquodoboit, “the focus is on recruitment from within our community and current staff. We feel that building a healthcare team with local roots will improve our ability to fill vacancies and to retain workers. Local employees who live in the community and whose families are in the community are strongly connected and engaged in their work because they are invested in the health of their community since it is their home.”
In Musquodoboit Harbour, the Old School Community Gathering Place and the Musquodoboit Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs are working together on healthcare professional retention activities. “We will be offering coupons, events, tours, and related appreciation activities,” said Kate Kharchuk, the facilitator for the Musquodoboit Harbour efforts. “We have an opportunity to come together and demonstrate what is special about this part of the world to the people who take care of us.”
Another community member pointed out the value of the project in this way: “For local workers: fishers, loggers, farmers, and miners, etc. knowing that their communities have reliable medical support makes everyone more confident working in occupations where there is always risk of serious injury. We want the healthcare professionals to know we appreciate them, rely on them, and hope they stay and become part of us.”
If you have a small business, services, skills, and knowledge to offer these projects, please contact the above-mentioned organizations.