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Peninsula Medical to serve as umbrella over Saanich Peninsula

Andrea Lewis and Elizabeth Rhoades show off the importance of a work-life balance when it comes to physicians. - Carlie Connolly
Andrea Lewis and Elizabeth Rhoades show off the importance of a work-life balance when it comes to physicians.
— image credit: Carlie Connolly

Operated by the Saanich Peninsula Primary Health Care Society, Peninsula Medical has been busy setting goals to address the shortage of doctors on the Saanich Peninsula.

In January alone, they began accepting applications for 400 new patients, and are currently at 355.

“We have about 100 of those that have actually been booked to see their physician so we’re in process of doing the meet and greets of those 400,” said Shawna Walker, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Primary Health Care Society.

With just over 1,200 patients added in 2016, the goal is to add 3,000 in 2017.

Adding more patients to address the shortage of doctors is just one of the many goals the Society has.

It also plans to add more doctors, expand in terms of more facilities, and so much more.

Andrea Lewis, one of the doctors at Peninsula Medical and medical director for the Society, said the vision is difficult and hard to put into perspective as it’s so large.

She said for the short term, they want to use the Sidney clinic as a stepping stone, develop the program and get a sense of their new model of care.

They also want to know that it’s achievable and be able to reproduce it, learning from their mistakes and open another clinic in another part of the Peninsula — possibly next to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. That would become a network, so patients can go to any of their clinics, with every physician having access to patients’ medical information.

“It’s this idea of an umbrella system over the entire Peninsula where we’re all interconnected,” said Lewis.

When it comes to processing new patients, they have a fairly detailed adult health form that is filled out by each person, plus the consent forms to allow the clinic access to their medical records.

“And the neat thing about this form is it’s completely integrated into our EMR (the electronic medical record system),” said Walker.

To meet the requirements, the clinic must ensure that the client is not attached to a doctor already and that they live on the Saanich Peninsula, as their goal is fixing the problem of unattached patients on the Peninsula.

It’s this process that makes the Society unique, said Lewis.

“This is actually something that we deem to be attractive to new physicians, because typically when a new physician takes on a new patient, they sit down with them, they gather all their medical history. That all has to be input into the EMR,” said Lewis.

Health information science students will input the data into the EMR and their Medical Office Assistants (MOAs) will then call and set up the first appointment. They then have to figure out what the patient’s medications are, past medical history, family medical history and social history.

“This process saves hours for the family physician, because it’s being done by supportive workers within the clinic,” said Lewis.

Among many other unique attributes of the Sidney clinic, is it’s also a non-profit society versus a privately-owned facility.

Elizabeth Rhoades, co-chair of the Society and on the board of the South Island Division of Family Practice, said what they’re hoping to do is enable team-based care, with their only limitation being funding.

“We do have an Island Health nurse that’s been working closely with the more complicated patients in this clinic...” said Rhoades.

Lewis said another concept, which they find unique, occurs when a patient comes in under, for example, one physician.

They will be assigned under what’s called the MRP — Most Responsible Physician.

“That patient is attached to that particular physician but that patient may see anybody in this clinic,” said Lewis.

If that patient were attached to Lewis, but she wasn’t there, they could still come in and see one of her colleagues who would be able to access their medical history.

“This idea of shared care is not only a benefit to the patient but it’s a huge benefit to the physicians because you’re not carrying the full load. If you’re not there, you know your patients are being taken care of,” said Lewis.

The next step for the Society is to finish off the Sidney clinic.

There is still another phase of renovations that will finish at the end of March. That includes expanding two extra exam rooms, which would enable one more full-time physician to come on board and work, along with finishing the back end of the office to create a nicer space for staff. This could include a lunch room and bathroom with a shower.

Another room could also be used for counselling, where ideally a nurse practitioner could have a practice.

The overall primary goals for 2017 are: hiring two doctors, the continued intake of new patients and the acquisition of interdisciplinary team members (registered nurses, a social worker and pharmacist).

Plans to expand is the long-term goal of the board, which hopes to have a network of these kinds of centres in three different areas of the Saanich Peninsula, not just in Sidney.

“The ultimate goal was to have the largest centre on the grounds of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, but that’s been pretty difficult to work through.” said Rhoades.

“The next best would be close to the hospital,” she said.

They also want to become more involved with the teaching of medical students.

The Society is still waiting on their charitable status and until then can’t do fundraising, which Walker said has been one of the hurdles for them being able to accomplish the visions they have for the bigger picture.

Rhoades said obtaining their charitable status is critical to enabling support from the community.

The Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation, she said, would really like to be behind them, but are unable to financially support them until they become a charitable foundation.

Lewis added that it’s important to differentiate that it’s not the clinic asking for charitable status, it’s the non-profit society, who has the vision of community care and who is trying to achieve something unique in the community.

“I truly believe that without that, you are going to lose the whole foundation of family practice on this peninsula. It’s non- sustainable.

“It is not sustainable without creating something new,” said Lewis.

She said new physicians trying to deal with the complexity of patients today, versus what they were 10 years ago, is completely different.

“We have a growing population and an aging population, which brings with it much more complex care.

“We cannot access specialists as quickly as we used to…” she said.

Those living on the Peninsula who are without a doctor can go online to peninsulamed.ca for an application form or stop by the clinic in person at 2A--2379 Bevan Avenue.

 

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