A group of Nanaimo family physicians has joined together to improve health-care services for area residents.
Dr. Daniel Bothma is president and physician lead of the newly formed Nanaimo Division of Family Practice.
The group, which consists of seven board members and about 30 family doctors so far, intends to work with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Ministry of Health and the General Practice Services Committee – a partnership between the province, the B.C. Medical Association and the Society of General Practitioners of B.C. – to identify gaps in the continuum of primary care and how partners can work together to address these gaps and achieve common health-care goals.
“Our immediate aim is to include as many family practitioners in Nanaimo who are interested in being part of this initiative,” said Bothma. “Our division is still very new.”
Another goal is increasing the influence of family physicians on health-care delivery and policy, he said.
“It was recognized that family physicians have become not as involved in decision-making,” said Bothma. “Traditionally, health care spending is very hospital-focused. The challenge is 85 per cent of health care is not delivered there, 85 per cent is delivered in the community.”
Nanaimo joins more than two dozen regions with their own Divisions of Family Practice, including Cowichan Valley, Comox Valley and Oceanside.
The divisions receive funding through the provincially funded GPSC for operational costs.
Bothma said the group hired a coordinator to contact physicians’ offices across Nanaimo for recruitment and to collect information about service gaps.
One area already identified as needing improvement is the long wait for chronic pain services, he said.
Bothma said the pain clinic in the hospital has a long wait list, but lots of physicians in the area have expertise in pain management and the group wants to look at how to build capacity by utilizing this expertise.