Getting access to healthcare in rural and remote communities can be difficult, but some relief is coming to people in Gold River, Tsa’xana and Tahsis.
A new Mobile Outreach Unit is coming to the west coast of the Island, which will provide a space for services that until now residents had to travel to Campbell River to access. However, thanks to the new vehicle the services will be brought right to the communities that need them.
“Rural and remote communities have their own massive set of barriers,” said Kaitlyn Nohr, a rural and remote services and social worker with Island Health. “One is transportation. From our region to the closest urban centre, we don’t have any methods of safe or reliable transportation like buses, taxis, ride-shares or anything like that. It’s all through private drivers. If folks don’t have access to that, if they don’t have funds to pay those private fees then they’re kind of stuck here.”
Though the mobile health unit is based on the MOUHSS vehicle in Campbell River, it will act more like a home base for things like social services, hearing clinics, foot care, diabetes education and testing and, through BC Ambulance, blood pressure checking.
“We have such limited resources in terms of what we can offer for social services and professional healthcare outside of our primary care centre. What we’re doing is, instead of having resources move around the city like urban areas would have, we’ll have a variety of resources that don’t exist here to start coming here,” Nohr said. “It’ll actually bring new providers to the community rather than circulating current providers.”
While the vehicle will be located in particular communities, it will be open to anyone who needs it.
“There’s not just one demographic that we’re looking to serve. It’s all community. We’ll have things like mental health and substance use, trauma informed resources like counselling and suicide assessment. We’ll have Indigenous resources. We have an Indigenous wellness worker and an Indigenous court worker as well — a victim services worker,” Nohr said. “We also actually have a dentist who has offered to come and do some exams.”
The unit, which will be housed in a converted camper trailer, will be located in Gold River on Mondays, where it will rotate to different Village of Gold River municipal sites. On Thursday afternoons, the unit will be located in Tsa’xana.
People will get a chance to check out the new vehicle before it officially starts up. On March 2 from 11 until 2 the unit will be at the Jack Christensen Centre in Gold River. On March 4 it will be at the House of Unity in Tsa’xana, from 11 until 2.