Residents of the Elk Valley have the opportunity to participate in a study that may help shape health care policy in rural areas of British Columbia.
The evaluation team of a program called the Rural Surgical Obstetrical Networks Initiative (RSON) will be in Fernie to conduct a focus group with surgical patients in the area on March 5. They will be coming to Fernie as part of a series of field visits in seven rural B.C. communities.
The research project is based out of the University of British Columbia and is striving to improve access to safe and quality healthcare services for residents of rural areas. Dr. Jude Kornelsen and Dr. Asif Khowaja are the lead researchers conducting the study.
“We want to come and speak to patients to learn more about their experience with surgical care and to find out whats working well, what are some of the challenges they are facing and specifically during this field visit, to get a sense of how [patients] were referred to their specific services from their doctor,” explained research assistant Eva Sullivan.
For their visit to Fernie, the research team will be conducting interviews with local physicians, nurses and hospital administrators. They will also be holding a focus group, which Elk Valley surgical patients are encouraged to take part in.
“We are looking to speak to anyone who has had surgery fairly recently,” Sullivan clarified. “There’s no exact cut off date but preferably within the last two years and that includes women who have had caesarean sections.”
Sullivan noted that it’s important to speak with patients and not just healthcare practitioners with a study of this nature. She said that talking with hospital staff will help them to gather one point of view but that “to try and triangulate that data, we also want to talk to patients to see if there’s a part of the story that isn’t being told just by speaking to the physicians and administration.”
The focus group will take place on March 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Elk Valley Hospital boardroom. Refreshments and snacks will be provided and participants in the focus group will receive a $25 gift card to Save on Foods.
Although this research is part of a larger reaching, five year study with many stakeholders and funders involved, the Fernie community could see reports about the findings within the next six months.
Sullivan explained that there are different phases of the study but the research team tries hard to make sure the communities understand how valuable their input is.
“We always report back to the communities so there is that kind of transparency and knowledge translation and that would be fairly soon,” she said. “Within the next six months we hope to issue out a community facing report back to the community so that all of the participants who participated in the focus groups and interviews would be able to see immediately what their comments were used to inform.”
Once the study is fully completed, there will be academic articles published as result of the research and eventually, the findings will be used to inform public health policy for rural communities.
Anyone who has undergone surgery and is interested in participating in the focus group should contact Eva Sullivan by phone at 604-822-4587 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.