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Community Health

When I was in high school an in class debate about the parties in a Provincial by-election gave me the opportunity to participate in our democratic process for the first time, even though I was still too young to vote. 

I had the honour of serving a driver for Tommy Douglas for several days as he helped campaign in the riding. 

I asked him about health care, assuming he was proud of the accomplishment.  This was in the early 60's and health care was only a few years old as a federal program.  His response shocked me and I believe gives us a starting point to reinvigorate health care in our community.

He said, "We tackled the hardest part first - creating a universal safety net so that no one rich or poor would be wiped out by a health condition beyond their control.  The second phase was to be a program to assure that we kept people healthy so that we minimized the need for the safety net.  The problem is that politicians, myself included, quickly forgot what we were doing and turned the safety net into a catch all through election promises.  I doubt anyone will have the courage to address the second part of health care." 

The sadness in his voice and the stillness that followed this discussion still stays with me. 

Having worked with prostate cancer patients, supporting my GP in Victoria as he was repeatedly audited for his board service with his medical association, and helping focus our energies in Ashcroft to improve our local services I am convinced that being against will no move us forward one inch.  However, by developing a vision and plan of what we want and why will create the momentum needed to have a "health care spring" happen, not only in our community but in our Province. 

This topic is not about what is wrong with health care.  It is about what do we want our health care to look like and why.  If we can demonstrate to the Ministry of Health that the dollars they are currently spending in Ashcroft and District would produce better health outcome if a portion of them were channelled directly into our communities to create a "primary care" model where we do everything to stay healthy longer I know we will be able to have this happen. 

In Ashcroft we do not need to create a new level of bureaucracy to further muddle the health care waters.  What we need to do is to support our health care professional (they too are business people) to create the services that are needed.      

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