Over a decade ago, there was a huge effort to get a medical clinic for Sayward. A spot was chosen near where the Share-Shed is now. but for reasons unknown to us, the project was abandoned just before ground was to be broken. In the following years, some efforts were made to breathe fresh life in the idea, but these never came to fruition.
In 2011, Mayor MacDonald held a meeting at the Heritage Hall to again attempt to get a community medical clinic started in Sayward. After hearing the formation of a non profit society was the final hurdle, 5 of us stepped forward to get the process started. Aggie Pringle, Angie Hayward(now Hibbert), Lisa LeSigne, Eve Hrybko, and Pat Rusch. There were approximately 40 people there that evening.
Following the move of the Village Office into the Kelsey Centre, the old village office building was offered to us for Clinic space. We accepted and proceeded with renovations to make the building suitable for a medical building. These were done by volunteer labour using donated materials. We then started raising money to pay for utilities etc. The community came forward in droves to offer everything from cash donations, to internet service, to office supplies, to art work for the walls. At this time we received no other outside funding whatsoever.
The village assisted us with the building by picking up all running costs for the first year of operation. The running costs were then taken over by the Society and the village continues to provide external structural maintenance and substantial other help. A 5 year lease agreement was then struck between the health society and the village for $1 a year. Also included was a 5 year permissive tax exemption.
The next step was for us to be recognized as a clinic with the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District. This also took several months. It is our understanding that accomplishing this also took several meetings between Mayor MacDonald and VIHA. These were followed by meetings with premiers Campbell and Clarke, the Ministry of Health, and the Comox-Strathcona Hospital District.
The final result was the recognition of the clinic within the hospital district and under the Provincial Hospitals Act. The Mayor also secured $2,500 per annum in operating funding from the CSRHD. (Just recently increased to $5000 but this can only be spent on equipment or capital items, not running costs).The village CAO was also involved in all these discussions.
During this time, we solicited community advice on what services they would like to see offered at the clinic. Following this we held a Grand Opening in January 2012. Over 80 people attended this opening and it was covered by the press.
Because the Clinic now officially existed, discussions continued and eventually VIHA agreed to provide a Nurse Practitioner for 3 days a week. The Society was involved in the hiring process and resulted in a job share between Laura Koop and Fran Chiste who started in August 2013. It soon became clear that the Clinic was too busy for them to be working any less than 5 days a week. VIHA was approached and with the help of Area Manager Enid O’Hara their schedules were changed. We then discovered the Society was entitled to some payment towards the running costs so a contract was signed with VIHA. Next came medical assistant Crystal Harris-Johnson (paid for by VIHA) computer support, and custodial staff (paid for by the Society). Previously the NP’s had been doing their own administration and the board had been doing custodial duties.
Fund raising continued and with the help of the Community, Sayward Council and the SRD who provided assistance and applied for grants, we managed to purchase a centrifuge that was needed to provide lab services, a 12 lead ECG machine, a lab chair and the new computer system we installed. We also continued to fund raise for things like the new bio-hazard resistant flooring. The community has stepped up and helped every step of the way.
Along the way, NP Danielle Daigle took over from Laura, who moved to the interior with her husband and we carried out further extensive renovations including the new reception area, 2nd examination room, NP kitchen area and soon to be completed separate blood processing room. The majority of this work was done on a volunteer basis by Dan Fear who we cannot thank enough for his continuing efforts. The outside of the building was also spruced up nicely by the village. The paint job was done by village staff after the health society chose the colours.
We now have our wonderful full time NP here, Tracey Payne, and are continuing to press VIHA for a receptionist to be in place for all the hours Tracey works.
The visiting practitioners we have had were originally all sourced by the board and asked to come to Sayward, but we now have a lot of help in this regard from VIHA and Dr McFadden.. All of them arrange their own appointment times adjusted their scheduled visits to the needs of the community, and contribute to running costs.
Your Clinic is a ground breaker in that it is a COMMUNITY Clinic, run by the Board on your behalf and not a faceless bureaucracy. The down side of this is that we are responsible for the running costs of the facility and the VIHA /CSRHD contributions don’t cover them. The Society obtained Charitable status which helps, and we can issue charitable tax receipts for donations over $25. Medical facilities are often specifically excluded from grant applications and so are running costs, so we continue to depend on the support of the community to upgrade the Clinic and pay the bills!
We would like to thank each and every one of you who have supported us in the continued growth of this much needed addition to our wonderful community.
Paul Davis, Angie Hibbert, Lisa LeSigne, Joyce Ellis, Charon Ridsdale & Jeannie Martin. Your current Society Directors.