Northern Health is working on a vision for Houston health services to guide and recommend improvements for the next five to ten years.

Northern Health is working on a vision for Houston health services to guide and recommend improvements for the next five to ten years.

Northern Health reviewing Houston services

Northern Health is doing a review of health services in Houston to create a vision with practical recommendations for improvement.

Northern Health is reviewing health services in Houston to create a vision with practical recommendations for improvement.

A panel of three (a doctor, nurse lead and a leader in community and primary health care) conducted one-on-one and group interviews with between 35 and 50 people in Houston Sept. 29 and 30, said Cormac Hikisch, Health Service Administrator.

They talked to staff at the Health Centre, community partners, Houston mayor and council, and leaders of the Regional Hospital District, Hikisch said.

They considered urgent care, the physicians compliment and arrangement, mental health and addictions, public health, and home and community care including home support.

They were “really trying to get an understanding of how health services is working and how we can plan for continued improvements,” said Hikisch.

Hikisch said he debriefed with the panel after the interviews, and “they were very impressed with how the Houston Health Centre and all the partners within are working together.”

The panel will also look at community and health statistics, and compare Houston’s services with other communities with similar population and economic base, Hikisch said.

It will also look at context and Houston’s distance from other communities.

Asked why Northern Health is conducting this review now, Hikisch said there are several reasons.

He said the first reason is the closure of Houston Forest Products, which is changing the demographics in Houston.

Second, the physician compliment has changed, as Doctor Kevin Woudstra left in June to take courses at the University of B.C. The services at Ninth Street Medical Clinic have not changed, as Dr. Chandler and Dr. Morkel are providing more days, but Hikisch says they are working with the practice and “actively recruiting for one more physician in Houston.”

He says a third reason for the review is how the District of Houston continues to raise health services as a priority.

Finally, Hikisch says there hasn’t been any substantive changes since they got complex care and respite and short stay beds in Houston four years ago, so “it was time.”

A final report will be done late-2014 or early-2015, and will give clear recommendations to Northern Health and other local health stakeholders.

“The hope is that this process will leave a vision for health services in the community for the future, and give recommendations to help us achieve that vision,” Hikisch said, adding that it will be a five to ten year plan.

Mayor Bill Holmberg says he’s glad they’re doing the review, though he says it’s long overdue.

“They probably should have done it two or three years ago, but at least they’re doing it,” he said.

His main concern is that the recommendations be achievable for Houston.

In terms of 24/7 health care, Holmberg says council is now seeking 24/7 nursing care to “get upgraded to the rural community standard.”