Auxiliary donates $7,000 to Health Care Foundation; $5,000 to PHC
Gabriola Sounder, Monday, December 2, 2013


Chuck Conners, President of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation, is presented with a cheque for $7,000 from Nancy Nevison, Chair of the Auxiliary for Island Health Care Society at the Society’s Annual General Meeting held on November 25. Submitted photo

Nancy Nevison, President of the Gabriola Auxiliary for Island Health Care Society, presented two very sizable donations during the Auxiliary’s AGM on Nov 25th, 2013 at the WI Hall.

“The GABE Shop and two other fundraising events held in our Oct 1/12 to Sept 30/13 financial year put us in a very healthy financial position,” said Nevison, also saying there are ambitious plans for the future expansion of the shop and services.

The first presentation cheque in the amount of $7,000 for the Gabriola Health Care Foundation. It was accepted by Chuck Connor, President of GHCF, who explained the monies will be used to purchase medical equipment for the Urgent Care Room at the Gabriola Community Health Centre.

The second amount of $5,000 was accepted by Chris Boulsbee, the People for a Healthy Community, Treasurer, who stated “this will go a long way to help the funding of our Grief as well as the PHC Seniors’ Counseling Programs.”

Nevison added “we are all very proud and happy our 60+ volunteers have been able to fund these two requests. This brings our Health Care Foundation donation total to $23,000 since November 2012. Since then we have also reinstated support for the Meals on Wheels program; have started our Drivers to Doctors (on island) services and have taken on installing and handling the maintenance of the Lifeline Emergency Call service. We’re all still standing.”

“It’s a remarkable achievement.

“We’re continuing to build on our years of fundraising and public awareness campaigns, events and staffing of the GHCF Volunteer’s office (while a GHCS Committee) and we were all beaming when we recently watched the installation of an “In Recognition” bench plaque on the walkway to the Community Health Centre.”


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Healthcare professionals welcome new doctor
Flying Shingle, Monday, October 28, 2013


Left to right: Carolynne Scholfield, Jen Turner, Nancy Rowan, Joanne Mackenzie, Verna Gregson, Dr. Brenda Purcell, Dr. Jim Mackenzie, Alex Mierzewski, Jessica Smith, Dr. Maciej Mierzewski, Amalie Mierzewski, Ian Scholfield, and Dr. John McDowell ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

A number of Gabriola’s primary care health workers and supporters responded to an invitation to come to the Gabriola Professional Centre Oct. 19 to meet new Gabriola Dr. Maciej Mierzewski.

Dr. Jim Mackenzie did the honours in welcoming Mierzewski, noting that it was a “bit of a first for Gabriola” to gather socially to introduce Mierzewski to other health care providers on the island.

Mackenzie said there were at least 28 primary health care providers – or those whom patients may see without needing a referral – on the island coming from a broad range of disciplines, but that “as one of the physicians, I don’t often get to meet these people. I might pass them in the grocery store and not even recognise them.”

So he decided to arrange the get together, Mackenzie said, to help Mierzewski get to know everyone a little quicker.

Mackenzie added that recently he invited Dr. Francois Bosman and Tracey Thorne to meet, “because I thought it was about time the physicians on this island took a little bit of command of the situation, which had sort of been going adrift”.

At that meeting, Mackenzie said, the doctors decided “that we really should meet more frequently, and that we would convene the next meeting when Dr. Mierzewski arrived”.

As he thought about it more, Mackenzie said, he thought it might be a good idea to blend those two objectives, “for this particular meeting”.

There are a number of common issues for Gabriola’s doctors, Mackenzie continued, such as continuing medical education and “bugbears with Nanaimo Regional General Hospital”. In the future he said, the doctors should try to meet on a regular basis.

“We talk on the phone, occasionally,” Mackenzie said, “I’m very grateful when my patients are seen in emergencies, and I receive something about what went on. But it makes a big difference putting a face to a name.”

“If there are any specialists to visit this island, Mackenzie added, “it would be very nice to meet them in person, because it does make a big difference to how the service evolves.”

Mackenzie asked those present to “extend a warm welcome” to Maciej and Alex Mierzewski, their daughter Amalie, and, alluding to the fact that the young family is expecting, “a Canadian citizen that’s going to be in your family very soon”.

Mierzewski said his family has felt very welcomed, and agreed it would be good for the doctors to meet every now and then.

Mackenzie said it was beneficial that he and Mierzewski have come from the same healthcare system in Britain. He said there have been many changes in the British system since he left, but there haven’t been many in Canada. He said changes are needed in the Canadian healthcare system “because it’s not serving the population as well as we would like to believe it is”.

Mierzewski said he was just starting to recognise local healthcare politics: “how it works, how the budget works, who makes the decisions, who’s calling the shots and how things can be organised and improved”.

“But it’s more the grassroots movement here that I find impressive,” Mierzewski continued. “Just normal people having ideas and then they can implement them just by organising. They don’t all get blocked by the politicians at the ‘authority’ level. I think it’s very exciting.”


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Dr. Maciek Mierzewski joins Gabriola Medical Clinic
Derek KilbournSounder News, Monday, October 21,2013


Dr. Maciek Mierzewski with clinic staff Janice Kerr and Anita Copeland at the Gabriola Medical Clinic. Derek Kilbourn photo

Dr. Maciek Mierzewski has arrived and is now working as a third full-time doctor at the Gabriola Medical Clinic in the new Community Health Centre on Gabriola.

Maciek, along with his wife Alex and their daughter Amelia, come to Gabriola from Manchester in the UK, where he was responsible for training new doctors to work as family doctors. They were happy to announce when they arrived that Alex is pregnant.

Both Maciek and Alex are originally from Poland, from the Gdynia area, they met while Maciek was studying at the Medical University of Gdynia.

Speaking of his home town, Maciek said, “it’s a nice place, lots of forests and lakes, but it’s big. 300,000 people.”

As his studies were coming to a close, Maciek said he knew he didn’t want to stay and practice in Poland.

He looked at Norway, but due to how long it would take to get certified, he and Alex instead looked to Britain, where he was offered a position in Yorkshire.

They were married two weeks before making their move to the UK.

They spent a year in Yorkshire before bumping around a few locations, ending up in Manchester.

In 2009, Amelie was born.

This past year, as they considered where they would move next, they had been looking at Gibraltar when Maciek opened an email.

“I received what I thought was a spam email asking if I wanted to come to Canada.

“I almost deleted it. Then I thought let’s look at this. The more we looked at it, the more we liked it.

“We knew we weren’t going to call England home.”

Like many professionals looking to move to Canada, they visited a few different locations, but weren’t really sold on any of them.

“When we were invited by VIHA to come over to Gabriola in April we loved the place. It’s so full of life here.

“I spent the day with Dr. Francois Bosman and got to meet Dr. Tracey Thorne, which was great. The people were so nice on the island, I knew I wanted to work here.

“It was easy, just paperwork and preparing everything to move.”

They arrived on island on Sept. 27 and this past week were presented with a West Coast themed quilt from the Gabriola Quilters Guild.

Maciek said his family was very appreciative of all the hospitality they’ve received since arriving.

“This quilt - this was fantastic - the hospitality is awesome. I can only say good things about getting here so far.”

At the moment, Maciek is planning on helping cover the current patient load at the clinic, while Dr. Thorne is on maternity leave.

The official plan is to start taking new patients sometime in January, but Maciek said he believes the practice will start accepting new patients sooner than that, they are just working out the details.


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Gabriola Auxiliary presents Health Care Foundation with $7,000
Derek KilbournSounder News, Monday, September 30,2013


(L-R) Brenda Fowler (Auxiliary Vice-President), Chuck Conners (Health Care Foundation President) and Nancy Nevison (Auxiliary President) in one of the examination rooms at the Gabriola Community Health Centre. Sounder photo

The Gabriola Auxiliary for Island Health Care Society donated $7,000 to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation to be used to finish the examination rooms in the Gabriola Community Health Centre.

Nancy Nevison, President of the Auxiliary, presented the cheque to the Foundation representatives at the Nathan Tinkham Country Dance Auxiliary Fundraiser at the Community Hall held Saturday night this past weekend.

She clarified that proceeds from the Dance will go into the Auxiliary’s general fundraising for continuing expansion of other community health care programs such as Meals on Wheels, Lifeline Emergency Call Services and Drivers to Doctors.

She said the additional donation to the Health Care Centre was to show the Auxiliary volunteers appreciate what the GABE Shop has become in its first year of operation.

This donation brings the total donated by the Auxiliary to the to the Health Care Foundation to $10,000.

Nancy said, “we expect to announce a couple more donations before, or at, our AGM in November as we have received requests we are currently considering.”


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Health Care Foundation answers to questions recently asked by critics

Derek Kilbourn, Gabriola Sounder, Monday, August 19 2013

A letter was recently written to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation, which stated the letter writers “are residents of Gabriola who are concerned about health care on the island. We are writing to follow up on the recent public dialogue between persons concerned about the Gabriola Health Centre on North Road and responded to by your July 1, 2013 update [the] Gabriola Health Care Foundation posted on your website.”

Within the letter, the writers asked for clarification on issues they were concerned about in regards to the Community Health Care Centre, which the foundation built at the end of Church Street.

Harvey Graham, treasurer for the Gabriola Health Care Foundation gave some clarification on the questions asked, saying the board will be receiving the letter as correspondence at its September meeting.

Land agreement with Potlatch Properties

In the letter, the foundation is asked if there is an agreement to return the land to Potlatch Properties.

Harvey explained there had been an agreement in place with Dr. Bob Rooks, owner of Potlatch, to return the property if the clinic was not constructed within five years.

Potlatch dropped the requirement in early 2011. The agreement with Potlatch, available on the foundation’s website, [Click here] shows the specific line regarding the property transfer scratched out and signed by Dr. Rooks as well as two representatives of the foundation.

Harvey added, “In any event, construction of the clinic was completed well within the five-year period so there is no obligation to return the property.

“The property is owned free and clear by Gabriolans through their membership in GHCF.”

The critics refer to a line in the foundation constitution, which references the Pledge Agreement, asking why, if the pledge agreement has been changed, why that remains in the constitution.

Harvey said, “Since the clause in the pledge agreement has been rescinded, and as the clinic building was completed well within the five years, the line in the constitution no longer has any relevance. It remains because this paragraph of the constitution is unalterable.”

Financial stability

On the question of financial stability, the group of islanders asked, “Will the rental income from the GHCF clinic’s tenants be sufficient to pay the costs of the GHCF clinic and GHCF operations?”

At the foundation annual general meeting earlier this year, Harvey showed the operating expenses for the centre were anticipated to be $58,500.

Harvey explained revenue was anticipated to be $39,000 at the time, but that was before the remaining tenants came in to the building full time.

This past week, he explained that since the Vancouver Island Health Authority office opened in July, the centre has seen a positive cash flow, with revenue exceeding operating expenses.

He added there were sufficient reserves to cover the operating costs of the building in the first half of 2013, but anticipated there would be no need to use the reserves for the second part of 2013.

Solicitation of tenants

In the letter, the group points out in the foundation’s update that it claims a 96 per cent occupancy, and asks if the foundation is soliciting new tenants for the remaining 4 per cent.

Harvey said the remaining space is a small 20-foot by 30-foot room, which is currently used for storage. It is available for rent, but he does not foresee that being taken up anytime soon.

Charitable contributions

The foundation was asked, “Do you foresee the continued need for support from charitable contributions?”

Harvey said with the centre being occupied with tenants, the foundation “is not planning any further fundraising for construction or operation of the Community Health Centre building. It may decide to initiate or support other projects related to health care on Gabriola in the future and will then decide how to fund these.”

Advice to persons seeking medical care

The writers asked, “Can you please confirm that you have communicated with the appropriate persons to advise staff that persons who contact the Gabriola Community Health Centre (the GHCF clinic) for a physician and who are told that Drs. Bosman and Thorne are not taking new patients, are also told that there is another physician on Gabriola, Dr. Mackenzie, who will see them?”

Harvey said the Gabriola Medical Clinic, which is a tenant of the health care centre, would handle its own policies and procedures and the foundation has no say in how it establishes those policies.

He added, “The foundation encourages a positive and collaborative working relationship between all the health-care professionals on the island.”

Janice Kerr, manager at the Gabriola Medical Clinic, said, “If someone comes in, and asks to go on our wait-list, we put them on our wait-list.

“If they ask if there is another doctor they could see, we say there is Dr. Mackenzie [at the Professional Centre Clinic], or there is the walk-in clinic in Nanaimo or they can check with other doctors in Nanaimo to see if they are taking new patients.”

On representing the Gabriola health care community

The foundation is asked, “Would you please confirm that you will not represent the GHCF as representing the medical and health care community of Gabriola?”

This is asked as the writers felt the foundation has, in the past, claimed to Gabriolans and those off-island that the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (as well as the previous existing health care society) were representing the entire Gabriola health care community.

Harvey said, “GHCF has always held itself out as representing itself and its goal for improved primary health care on Gabriola as set out in its constitution as approved by the members from time to time. That has not changed.”

He further explained that with the dissolution of the health care society at the 2012 AGM, there were goals agreed on by the members present.

“We only held ourselves out as pursuing these goals and nothing more.

“Our mandate is not to represent the broader medical community, it is to represent the foundation goals.”


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Gabriola Health Care Foundation Update
Foundation notice, Monday, June 17, 2013


Gabriola Health Care Foundation Update

The board members of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) would like to take this opportunity to provide the following information to the public to clarify any misunderstandings and update residents on our activities.

The central goal of the GHCF, which has remained fundamentally unchanged over the years, is to provide a community owned and operated Health Care Facility that fosters accessible, coordinated and integrated primary health care to residents and visitors.

Current priorities include:

• Maintaining and enhancing services in the Urgent Care room to enable on Island medical treatment of all residents and visitors who are in need of urgent care.

• Supporting efforts to have a minimum of three physicians to share “on-call” for emergencies to enable 24 -7 emergency coverage. Currently the 2 doctors at the Gabriola Community Health Centre have responded to more than 30 emergencies per month as well as managing a full caseload in their offices.

• Enabling all Gabriola residents to have access to a family physician of their choice on Gabriola, if they so desire.

• Facilitating the retention of the physicians practicing on Gabriola by addressing some of the inequities they face within the BC health delivery system.

• Collaborating with other health professionals, community agencies, provincial agencies and the regional health authority to address and respond to community health care needs.

• Continuing to maintain the physical and financial stability of the Gabriola Community Health Centre. Fortunately due to the generosity of this community the building is debt free.

Considerable progress has been made in addressing these priorities since the opening of the Gabriola Community Health Centre less than a year ago. A new doctor and a new locum have been recruited because of the amazing facility the community has developed. The new helipad has transported critically ill patients and saved lives. And, with VIHA Home and Community Care moving into the first floor, there will be more coordinated care for patients. With the arrival of VIHA, 96% of the available space in the Gabriola Community Health Centre is occupied.

The board believes that as Gabriolans we are well served by the physicians in our medical community which includes Drs. Bosman, Thorne, Mackenzie and our locums Drs. Henderson, Secord, Skinner, and others. It is our opinion that all the doctors practicing on the island, including our newly arriving member, are essential to quality health care delivery on Gabriola. It would be a significant loss to the community if any of these excellent physicians moved or retired.

We would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that the Urgent Care Room is open to all residents or visitors who need treatment for a serious injury or illness that requires immediate care. When on call the clinic doctors see the majority of ambulance patients thus preventing many transfers off the Island.

Finally, the GHCF board welcomes input from the public. The annual general meeting is open to the general public. Notification of the annual general meeting is posted in both papers at least two weeks in advance. In addition, issues or concerns communicated in writing will be given careful consideration at our monthly meetings and responded to accordingly. Time may be set aside for a presentation upon request. If one wishes to make a presentation please indicate your intent in writing and send it to one week (7 days) in advance of the Board meeting. If you prefer mail, our mailing address is: PO Box 295, Gabriola, BC V0R 1X0.

For further information we invite you to visit our website at

Chuck Connor, President GHCF


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Competing clinics ‘This town is big enough for the both of us’, suggest GHCF responses
Flying Shingle, Monday, July 1, 2013


Recent events had supporters of the Gabriola Professional Centre (GPC) on North Road questioning whether Gabriola can support both of their medical care facilities.

But projections supplied by Gabriola Health Care Foundation society (GHCF) Treasurer Harvey Graham that Church Street medical building rentals should be covering operating expenses by fall suggest they can let go of at least some of those concerns.

As previously reported, concerns about whether Gabriola can sustain both of their health care buildings arose for GPC supporters when: it was revealed that electrical fittings for a dentist had been installed in the Church Street building; LifeLabs was transferred from GPC to the Church Street building; and after years of hearing that Gabriolans have been told that he is ‘not a real doctor’, that the only doctors on Gabriola are at the Church Street clinic, or that he is not taking new patients, Dr. Jim Mackenzie returned from a vacation to rampant rumours that, unbeknownst to himself, he was retiring.

Dentist John McDowell said at a June 17 meeting at the GPC that Gabriola cannot sustain two dental practices, but that the plans to install a second dentist at the Church street building had been dropped.

As previously reported Mackenzie has also questioned whether there are enough patients on Gabriola to support more doctors.


Following up on concerns about whether both medical buildings can thrive on Gabriola, GPC manager Verna Gregson noted at a June 19 meeting at the GPC, that the GHCF 2012 financial statements show a shortfall between operating income and expenses. However, she added that those records are mainly from before the clinic moved into the Church Street offices, and do not include new services now or soon to be paying rent in the new building.

According to the GHCF website, in 2012 the society had operating revenues of about $28,000, including $13,000 rental income, fundraising revenue of about $480,000 and operating expenses of about $84,000.

An ‘update’ from the board published in this edition however (see page 4), notes that the new medical building will soon be 96 per cent occupied.

Queried about the board’s projected income and operating costs for 2013, GHCF Treasurer Harvey Graham said Wednesday by email: “We do not release interim financial statements, internal budgets, and forecasts since these are subject to change with circumstance and are not independently reviewed”. But he added that the board’s “current projections are that the building will generate a positive cash flow from rental income beginning in the fall of 2013. We have sufficient funds on hand to cover the small deficit that is expected for 2013.”

Graham also confirmed Thursday that projected income is based on all those renting the building as of this week.

Donation agreement rescinded

Graham also responded to a question about a clause in the GHCF constitution saying that a requirement to consult the public before selling the Church Street facility “would not apply to the situation of returning the land in accordance with the provisions of the original donation agreement made between the foundation and Potlatch Properties”.

As previously reported, Potlatch Properties is the name of a development corporation of which Robert Rooks, who donated the land on which the Church Street clinic resides, is a partner.

Graham said that the donation agreement mentioned in the constitution is called a “pledge agreement” on their website. He said that the five year clause in the pledge agreement has been rescinded.

“The original intent of the paragraph was to allow the land to revert to the original owner if the clinic building was not completed within five years,” Graham said. “Since the clause in the pledge agreement has been rescinded, and as the clinic building was completed well within the five years, the line in the constitution no longer has any relevance.”

He said the clause was not removed because another clause prevents changing that section of the constitution.

Church Street focus

Gabriolan Adrianne Maskell said June 19 that she spoke to the BC Registrar of Companies, and researched the GHCF on the Revenue Canada and Gabriola Health Care Foundation websites.

The BC registrar confirmed that the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) is registered as a charitable society, she said. While a society may call itself whatever it wants, she explained, technically GHCF is a charitable non-profit society, not a foundation, as foundations generally give away money.

Maskell said a charity must have a constitution and bylaws which establish a clear public benefit. She said the GHCF has “very broad purposes” in order to assure it is of public benefit. It is delivering that benefit by “providing a clinic, that of course has to operate and pay for itself,” she said.

Responding to a comment from the June 17 meeting that the GHCF board should include patients from the GPC’s medical clinic, Maskell said while the GHCF does serve all Gabriolans, it does so through the Church Street building, so “if I were sitting on the board I wouldn’t be worried about (the GPC) clinic”.

She said GHCF should make clear to community members that it actually only represents the Church Street building, not all Gabriola primary care services, including those at the GPC.


Maskell also reviewed how one becomes a GHCF member. She said the by-laws say members are Gabriola residents who are 19 or older, who assent to the purposes of the society, have not ceased to be a member (through resignation or expulsion), or who apply to, and are accepted by the board of the society for membership.

“There is no definition of how you assent to the purposes of the society,” Maskell said, or information on where one finds the members’ list, which societies are generally required to have.

Asked about the membership list, Graham outlined the definition of membership as above.

Next steps

At their June 19 meeting and another on Wednesday, GPC supporters also shared stories on how they have been impacted by the battle of the buildings, and discussed how they will proceed regarding the relationships between the GPC, the GHCF, and the clinics.

Maskell and others noted that it would be best for the community if both facilities succeed.

Some attendees were also clear they are mad as hell, and ready to push back against slings, arrows, and comments made about the GPC or health care professionals who work there.

More meetings are planned.


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Competing clinics ‘Poaching’ not solution to scarce resources: Maskell
Flying Shingle, Monday, June 24, 2013


Too much primary care space to fill, not enough patients, and a history of ill-will by Church Street medical clinic proponents towards the North Road medical clinic at the Gabriola Professional Centre (GPC) have Dr. Jim Mackenzie questioning whether the relationship between clinics is “past repair”.

But regardless of how that relationship works out, “poaching” is not an acceptable way to deal with scarce medical resources, meeting attendee Adrianne Maskell told Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) board members at a June 17 meeting at the GPC that followed a contentious meeting with the board at the Church Street clinic.

“The reality is that on Gabriola Island there is now 17,000 sq. ft. of institutional area for what is designated as primary care (or care that one can access without a referral),” Mackenzie explained. He added that there are 4,045 people on Gabriola, that “Ministry of Health figures show that each General Practitioner needs 1,200 to 1,500 patients (to make a living), and some Gabriolans … still go to Nanaimo for their doctor.”

“I don’t see this ending happily,” Mackenzie said. “Unless there is a huge influx of population, which isn’t going to happen, you don’t need 17,000 sq. ft. to provide the primary health care needs of Gabriolans.”

Saying that there have already been moves to ‘annex’ GPC patients and services to the Church Street clinic, he said there are three possible outcomes if this scenario continues: “building one fails, building two fails, and worst of all they both fail”.

Code of conduct

Meeting attendee Donna Kydd suggested a professional code of conduct be established between the two clinics to outline how they deal with each other. She said a signing party should be held so “each entity (is held) to the task of operating on behalf of, and for, Gabriolans”.

Meeting attendee Carol Baird-Krul said North Road clinic patients should respond to Church Street patients bragging about their doctors by doing some bragging of their own. “Instead of being bullied, subliminally or otherwise,” she said, “maybe it’s time we stood up on our hind legs and said: ‘Hey, we’ve got a real doctor here’.”

A bridge too far

Mackenzie said he came to the conclusion in 2009 that he and the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) – the first organisation mandated to build a Gabriola urgent treatment room (UTR) – were “mutually irrelevant. And that’s the way it remained until this malicious, calculated, strategic rumour of retirement arose co-incident with two or three other factors. Only a very naïve person would not put those pieces together.”

GHCF board member Margaret Litt – who responded to an invitation by Mackenzie to attend his meeting, as did board member Mike Phillips – said that Sustainable Gabriola has proposed having another community conversation on health care in the fall to identify the gaps, overlaps, and possible solutions. She said maybe the suggestion about a code of conduct could be discussed there.

Asked later if GPC health care professionals had been informed of this proposed meeting, GPC manager Verna Gregson said she was certain that “none of the primary health care providers in this building, of which there are 14, have been told”.

Maskell said although history and town halls are important, what is needed now is for the new GHCF board to “have a good hard look at what’s happened, and make a decision about it going forward, on the understanding that there are currently three valuable physicians who are practicing in two clinics”.

GHCF must lead by example

“To the extent that you wish to be inclusive … and speak for Gabriolans,” Maskel told Litt, then the right thing for GHCF to do is apologise. “There should be a script with a message that you guys decide on, and I hope the message is that ‘this is an inclusive community that supports its talented doctors’. And part of that could be a protocol about how the clinics work together.”

“That’s issue number one,” Maskell said, “but I think it should be addressed. I think Jim and his patients – his devoted patients – have been quiet for a long time, while other people raved about their new facility and their great new doctors, and I just think that it’s time to put that away. And I think the only way that it can be put away properly, is if the other side decides not to be a side anymore and to say something and do something gracious, and people will follow.”

No poaching

The second step “towards peace and progress,” Maskell said, entails dealing with the likelihood “that there is more medical space than there are people to use the space. I think it would behoove your group to ensure there is no more poaching. You can say whether or not that was a poach, it doesn’t matter to me, but between the … owners (of the two clinics) and the people who work for them, you’re going to have to figure out how to fill the space – aside from getting it from each other.”

“Maybe that requires some kind of expansion of purposes, I don’t know,” Maskell said, “but there’s space that’s got to be used in order to pay for these buildings and to provide a return to the people who own them and take the risk of providing that business opportunity for the professionals.”

She said if the owners are not more creative about how the space is used “one or both is going to go down”.

“There’s another doctor coming,” Maskell added, “and based on the census numbers, there may not be enough patients for that doctor. That’s going to have to be dealt with in some way, but Dr. Mackenzie is not going to retire, so it’s not automatically going to come from here. That has to be addressed, and to the extent there’s been any misunderstanding regarding him, I think it should be corrected.”

Won’t work

One meeting attendee said his wife is a retired Director of Finance at the Ministry of Health. He said she has said several times “these people are crazy to add this much space to this island. There is no way the ministry is going to support this in the way that people are hoping.”

Litt said Vancouver Island Health Association’s (VIHA) Home Community program has set up a wheelchair shower in the basement of the Church Street clinic for people who can’t bathe at home. She said this is expanding the use of the building to focus on “our health care collectively on the island, whether it’s dentistry, or medical, or home care, or whatever.”

The meeting attendee said his wife’s point was “these people do not have a decent financial plan, and they don’t really know what to expect from VIHA or the ministry.”

He encouraged his wife to get involved, the meeting attendee said, “but she hates confrontation. And everybody was so messianic about the way the thing was being done, she was not willing to stand there and take it.”

Litt leaves

After noting earlier that Mackenzie had tried unsuccessfully to take the floor, meeting attendee Muriel Wiens said Litt had taken over the meeting. Litt apologised, then began to cry, and things became somewhat heated.

Mackenzie called for a break. Litt left.

After the break Mackenzie asked Phillips what discussion there had been with Gabriolans about expanding the building from the “more workable” 3,500 sq. ft. originally proposed to the community to the 9,000 sq. ft. it is now.

Phillips said “financing was available to build the lower floor. And it was accepted, on the grounds that the worst thing to do to try to move healthcare forward on Gabriola was not to facilitate it, and that was the easiest way to do it. And that floor seems to be very useful to a lot of people in the medical field”.


That space is now being used, Phillips said. Baird-Krul said “thanks to poaching LifeLabs”. Phillips said they didn’t poach LifeLabs.

Following up on the LifeLabs issue later in the meeting, Mackenzie said the GHCF has moved into a stage of “annex and conquer”. He said he couldn’t believe that GHCF didn’t give the LifeLabs people in the Toronto office the misinformation on which they based their move.

As previously reported, Gregson said she was told by the Toronto office that the lab was moved to the Church Street location because it was more central, was open 24/7, and there were four full-time doctors and an X-ray facility there.

As also previously reported, LifeLabs’ Manager of Client Services Bonnie Vogt said they moved because there was more space at the Church Street clinic.


Mackenzie said the annexing attempts got worse when electrical preparations were made to bring a dentist into the basement of the Church Street clinic. He said this was both “poaching” and “hostile”. He said this fell through, but not because of any direction from the GHCF.

Dentist Dr. John McDowell said that if the new dentist had opened his practice on Church Street, “Gabriola would have ended up without dental care”.

Phillips said “then he made the right decision, didn’t he?”

Baird-Krul said that when the GHCS first started planning to build a UTR and medical offices they should have thought about the North Road clinic patients. “We have a wonderful doctor,” she said, “we like coming to this clinic, we like the feeling we get here, we get incredibly good service, we get top professional care, but at every turn in the last six-and-a-half years, in newspaper articles, in comments on the street, it’s as though this clinic isn’t worth a piece of shit.”

She said the message is that patients who don’t see the doctors at the other clinic aren’t as good as those who do, and aren’t getting as good service. “It’s subliminal and it’s overt,” she said, “and you owe us an apology.”


Mackenzie said he was glad Phillips came to the meeting because the whole system has been polarised, and he hadn’t actually expected any of the GHCF board to accept his invitation.

He said this polarisation happened because the originators of the GHCS were patients of Dr. Daile Hoffman and “she had a vendetta against this clinic in general and (Gregson) in parti

cular” (see ‘backstory’).

Mackenzie said since GHCS was first founded, only one of the community clinic’s organising board members has been a North Road clinic patient.

The polarisation has to stop, he said. “I don’t bad-mouth your clinic,” he said, “you guys quit bad-mouthing my clinic”.

Phillips said he would try to make sure that the bad-mouthing ends, but responding to earlier comments about statements by volunteers at a former fundraising office noted that “we don’t have volunteers in the public anymore”. Asked about the GABE Shop auxiliary, he said GHCF is no longer connected to them.

He said the auxiliary raises money for health care on Gabriola, and makes donations to provide for medical needs. Gregson said they have never made any donations to the North Road clinic.

Wiens said Church Street proponents have made mistakes, tried to cover them up, made more mistakes, and “finally pulled the whole community to a million dollars’ worth of something that looks pretty good.”

Slander is serious

However, she said, when Mackenzie became the victim of slander, that was “serious. This is now a legal affair if you want to make it one, so we better get serious about solving it.”

Mackenzie said he had chosen to rise above the “continuous, rankling – slanderous is the word – comments”. Phillips said: “Good”. Wiens said to Phillips: “Lucky for you”.

Phillips asked what people need from the GHCF board. Meeting attendees said an apology. Mackenzie said the board needs to fully represent the population, and that means it can’t only be composed of Church Street clinic patients.

Maskell said she thought GHCF was only attached to the Church Street clinic.

Mackenzie read out the GHCF’s mandate which says: “The purpose of the foundation is to improve primary health care services for the residents of and the visitors to Gabriola Island …”.

Maskell said this must mean that while the GHCF has a broad mandate inclusive of Gabriola, “the foundation owns the clinic, and so … its concentration is on what it owns”.

Asked whether this means GHCF’s sole focus is on the clinic and the patients who attend the clinic, Phillips said they don’t run the clinic, and are only responsible for the building.

Two clinics three doctors

Meeting attendee Deborah Vitek said another issue that needs to be addressed is that when new patients call the Church Street clinic they are told the doctors there aren’t taking patients but are not told there is another doctor on the island. She said it’s standard practice for clinics to refer to other doctors in such situations.

Mackenzie said “as recently as” the week before, someone at the Church Street clinic advised a caller that theirs was the only clinic on Gabriola.

Phillips said he would raise this issue with the Church Street clinic and suggested Mackenzie do so as well.

Church Street clinic manager Janice Kerr did not respond before press time to the Flying Shingle’s message to call.


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Mackenzie outlines clinic backstories
Flying Shingle, Monday, June 24, 2013


“Gabriola has a record of doing the most extraordinary things to placate their doctors,” Dr. Jim Mackenzie told a small group of meeting attendees as he prepared to outline, from his perspective, the history of the Church Street urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices at a June 17 meeting at the Gabriola Professional Centre (GPC) on North Road.

Mackenzie said the community even built one doctor’s house for him. GPC manager Verna Gregson said: “And then he sold it.”

Mackenzie said in the 1990s there were two doctors on Gabriola working out of a clinic on Lochinvar Lane. One of the doctors left, he said, which provincial records show substantially increased the income of Dr. Ted Wong, the remaining GP, shortly before Dr. Daile Hoffman moved to the island.

About the same time, Dr. Madeline McPherson joined the North Road clinic at the GPC, and many of Wong’s patients transferred to her, Mackenzie said. This left Hoffman in “tough straits” for income, he said, so Dr. G.H. Harding, who was working out of the North Road clinic, invited her to take on his practice.

Mackenzie said Hoffman said vehemently she wanted nothing to do with Harding’s practice or the GPC building.

Gregson explained that this antipathy arose because when the GPC was first built, Wong was offered first right of refusal for space in the office, but didn’t get around to saying he wanted to move in until five years later, by which time the space was being used.

However, Gregson said, Wong apparently told Hoffman that they would be moving into the GPC, and when he finally said he wanted the space and was told he would have to go on a waiting list, he told Hoffman Gregson was “the nasty person who said ‘no Dr. Hoffman you’re not moving in here’ ”.

Meeting attendee Carol Baird-Krul said the idea to create a UTR originated with McPherson who suggested to Hoffman one was needed. Mackenzie said Hoffman “came up with a plan that she would offer emergency services, and she wanted a new office”.

In November 2006 – one month after Mackenzie came to Gabriola and did his first locum with Dr. Verne Smith at the Lochinvar clinic – Hoffman’s patients rallied to put together the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) hoping to hold onto Hoffman, Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie said the GHCS was born: “flawed at conception, flawed at birth, and has been flawed ever since”.

New premises were established at Twin Beaches, Mackenzie said, Dr. Francois Bosman arrived, and Hoffman recruited a new doctor from Northern Ireland. He said shortly after that doctor was recruited Hoffman left. Not impressed with this treatment, the new doctor stayed on Gabriola for a few months, then found a new practice, Mackenzie said.

Hoffman returned for a short time, Mackenzie said, then announced she was leaving.

Mackenzie said Bosman asked if Mackenzie wanted to move to Twin Beaches, but at that stage Mackenzie thought “naïvely”, the GPC would be the permanent location of the new clinic. “It turned out they never took a serious look at (the GPC),” he said, “so it all went amiss.”

Gabriola Health Care Foundation board member Margaret Litt, who was at the meeting, said that she and others wanted a UTR as a place to administer clot-busting drugs.

Another meeting attendee said his interest arose because BC Ferries staff would no longer take patients to the Nanaimo hospital after hours, and the other transportation options were unacceptable.

Mackenzie said the good news is that “despite the albatross of the new building, which has contributed nothing to primary health care, the overall primary health care in terms of quality (has gone up), and in terms of quantity … in the last 10 years it has gone up 250 – 300 per cent. … That is a huge success. We have improved quality, and … quantity.”

He added that there is still “a little hiccup” regarding access.

“So that’s the story,” Mackenzie said, “it’s all about dollars and cents, as it so often is.”

“There are all sorts of ramifications to that,” Mackenzie said, which he has been graphing. He said there are “a few unfortunate” doctors who appeared on the Gabriola graph but only lasted here for a few months or less. He didn’t know if exit interviews had been done with any of the doctors who didn’t stay.


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Rumours of retirement highly exaggerated: Mackenzie
Flying Shingle, Monday, June 10, 2013


Dr. Jim Mackenzie, who practices out of the medical offices at the Gabriola Professional Centre on North Road, is not retiring now, nor is he planning to retire at any time in the near future.

That, and the importance of collegiality between Gabriola’s physicians, are two things on which Mackenzie and Dr. Paul Champion from the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) board agreed after a Tuesday meeting at Mackenzie’s office at the professional centre.

Emerging from the meeting to a waiting room full of Mackenzie’s patients who had gathered to protest rumours that their doctor was being urged to retire, Mackenzie introduced Champion as a “recent addition” to the GHCF board. It was Champion’s request that the two doctors meet, Mackenzie said, “and the subjects of the discussion included rumours that have been going around the island … about my retirement.”

Mackenzie said he didn’t intend to retire.

Champion said he had suggested to the GHCF board that he come to talk to Mackenzie due to “a desire for conviviality (between the Church Street and North Road clinics), which I gather does not exist, and that it would be supportive for the patients on the island if they understood that there was no division between the doctors on the island”.

Asked by Mackenzie patient Burtt Fidler about the GHCF’s position on Mackenzie’s rumoured retirement, Champion said as far as he was aware the board “wants (him) to continue practice, and the doctors, anyway, want (him) to continue as well, because (he’s) essential to the medical services on the island”.

Change behaviours

Champion said the meeting came out of his belief that “Dr. Mackenzie had been left out of the loop of things that were going on, and since I’m a new board member I wanted to change that behaviour pattern”.

Originally, Champion said, he was aiming for a friendly meeting to reassure Mackenzie that “I didn’t consider him ‘them’ as opposed to ‘us’ and I had no intention to continue that psychology”. He said he heard rumours Monday night that “there was a desire to have a demonstration against the (Church Street) clinic, because they were trying to kick Dr. Mackenzie out”.

This “came out of the blue,” Champion said. He said he called Mackenzie “to ask if this was really what he understood as well. Nothing that I heard before last night gave me the impression that this was even in the cards.”

Fidler said Mackenzie’s patients had good reason to believe that rumour. “Some of us have a very bad history with that group that you represent,” he said.


“We have heard lies from people in that group,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday morning Fidler told The Shingle he was told by staff at the Church Street clinic (then operating out of a clinic at Twin Beaches) that the doctors there weren’t taking new patients and there were no other doctors on Gabriola.

He didn’t believe that information, he said, so he called Mackenzie’s office, and quickly got an appointment. He said the care he’s received from Mackenzie is “the best care from a medical doctor that I’ve gotten … most of my life”.

Fidler added that during the fundraising campaign for the urgent treatment rooms and medical offices on Church Street, he went into the GHCF volunteer office in Folklife Village, planning to write a cheque. But first he asked one of the fundraising volunteers why the community needs a clinic, he said.

He was told there was only one full-time doctor on the island and another was needed. Fidler pointed out that Mackenzie has a practice here, he said, and was told that Mackenzie was not “a real doctor” because he can’t bill MSP for services. When Fidler said this was incorrect, he was told Mackenzie “works for Verna (Gregson, the manager of the Gabriola Professional Centre offices)”.

Fidler said he challenged this too, and was then told Mackenzie “can’t refer”. After pointing out that both he and his wife had been referred to specialists by Mackenzie, Fidler said that he was then told Mackenzie can’t refer patients into the hospital.

Fidler told the fundraiser that his wife had been sent to the hospital by Mackenzie and that the process went very smoothly.

Mackenzie patient Elly Hallam said others have reported receiving similar misinformation at the fundraising office.

Fidler left with his chequebook unopened, he said, but assumed that the fundraiser had just not been well-trained. However he came back a few weeks later and “had the same conversation with the same person”.

Process flawed

“The whole process of building the (Church Street) doctors’ offices was very flawed,” Fidler said. He thought the donors and volunteers who helped out with the clinic had been “used”.

Responding to an abbreviated version of this story after his meeting with Mackenzie, Champion said he didn’t want “to perpetuate all the nastiness people seem to have experienced”. He agreed that “what you have experienced is very wrong and unpleasant”.

Fidler said he wanted Champion to be aware that there have been some “very dirty politics” behind the building of the Church Street medical offices. He added that it’s not an “emergent care clinic that operates 24/7 the way it was sold to this community.”

Doing their best

Champion said the Church Street doctors “are doing their best to supply as much emergency care as they can. They do it for all of you as well as for their own patients.”

“It’s not the doctors who are against Dr. Mackenzie at all, Champion said. “If anyone is, it’s definitely not the doctors.”

As long as he is on the board, Champion added “every effort will be made to treat this as a medical community – which means all the doctors.”

Noting that Mackenzie is unlikely to retire soon, he added that young on-call doctors who are responding to emergencies should be “helped … (to be) part of the community. It’s very important that those people don’t get up at night to save our lives and at the same time get ignored during the day.”

Patients needed

Asked about a rumour that because a third doctor (Dr. Mierzewski) is coming to the Church Street Clinic, Mackenzie is being encouraged to retire, Champion said he’s never heard of that being asked of Mackenzie. He said he was sure some are hoping that more patients are available for Mierzewski, but “the reason the third person is coming is to build up his own practice. … He will have to decide after a year if he has managed” to do that.

“That’s for the (Church Street) doctors to decide,” Champion said. “… They decided that they (wanted) someone to come in, who it was going to be, and he’s the one who is going to be working with them.”

He said the GHCF board is composed of volunteers who thought they were doing the right thing. He admitted they ended up hurting some people. “This whole aspect of leaving people out – even when you didn’t mean anything by it – is not going to work,” he said. “It’s not a good thing. So I hope there will be a bit more contact and a bit more understanding”.

As Champion had to leave, Mackenzie thanked him for coming.

All the way to BCMA

Asked his sense of the meeting, Mackenzie thought it was “educational for Dr. Champion”.

He said Champion was appointed to the GHCF board a month ago, and a half a week later arranged to talk to Mackenzie, “and there’s no disputing the fact that the word ‘retirement’ was on the agenda.”

“A BC Medical Association (BCMA) technology rep,” Mackenzie said, “has been told by a representative of the Church Street Clinic that: ‘Dr. Mackenzie is retiring’. So this has gotten as far as the BCMA: my professional organisation. And who knows how far beyond that? So this really needs to be scotched.”

Church Street clinic Office Manager Janice Kerr did not respond before press time to a Tuesday message left with staff offering an opportunity to comment.

A Friday follow-up call revealed that Kerr was on vacation.

Dr. Francois Bosman did not respond before press time to a Friday message to call The Shingle.

Spotty track record

Mackenzie said the GHCF “track record” has been “spotty” in the last year. He said they tried to recruit a dentist to work out of the Church Street clinic, although “everybody knows we don’t need another dentist on this island”.

He said he was encouraged by Bosman, “with whom I continue to have a collegial relationship, as I do with Dr. (Tracey) Thorne,” to refer his patients to a visiting doctor “for plastic surgery procedures to save (patients) from going to Nanaimo”.

“We referred some patients earlier this year,” Mackenzie said, “and were told for (my) patients to proceed at the community clinic (I) would have to provide a fee to cover the expenses of the surgeon operating from the Church Street clinic”.

Reviewing the fundraiser’s description of him as a not-real doctor who charges patients and can’t refer to anybody, Mackenzie said: “This is pretty rich”.

“It took six to eight weeks to settle this,” Mackenzie said. “Why did it occur in the first place? You’d have to ask the people at the Church Street clinic.”

Not retiring

“For six-and-a-half years,” Mackenzie said, his attitude has been: “rise above it; live and let live; GHCF and I are mutually irrelevant; I’ll do my work to the best of my ability, you do yours, (and) I will continue to communicate as I need to with Dr. Bosman and Dr. Thorne.”

“And that’s been fine,” Mackenzie said, “until I take a brief break for a vacation, I speak to my locum two or three days before its conclusion and he says: ‘I’ve had lots of patients in here asking about your retirement’. I see my first group of patients yesterday. Three or four of the first 10 say: ‘What’s this about your retirement?’ The word’s got around. We know it got to the BCMA through the Church Street clinic. Join the dots.”

To a loud round of applause Mackenzie concluded by assuring his patients: “I am not retiring”.


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A new board for foundation now that health centre is complete

Derek Kilbourn, Gabriola Sounder, April 22, 2013

The Gabriola Health Care Foundation Board will look quite a bit different going into the next year, as several long-time members of the board retired this year.

Outgoing President Jill Adamson said in her report that the departing board members feel “we have accomplished the goal we set ourselves, which was fundraise and build a health care centre Gabriolans can be proud of and tenant the first floor to help ensure sustainability.

“I think you would all agree that this has been accomplished in a grand manner. So please join me in thanking our outgoing directors Konrad Mauch, Judith Madsen, Rufus Churcher, Judith Graham and Brenda Fowler.”

Jill herself is also stepping down from the board.

Having one more year in their terms are Harvey Graham, Dave Innell, Mike Phillips and Nancy Rowan.

Elected to the board this year for two-year terms were Chuck Conners and Paul Champion.

Elected for three-year terms were Judy Rogers, Margaret Litt and Nancy Hetherington-Peirce.

In her report, Jill thanked everyone who had worked since the grand opening last spring to complete the landscaping around the clinic.

She also requested that all members of the public remember that as nice as the lawn around the helipad looks, it is an operational emergency helipad, which means dogs near to it need to be leashed and the grass is not the most appropriate place for anyone to be occupying.

“The heliport is not a public park but an emergency evacuation site which is used frequently by BC Ambulance, Coast Guard and RCMP, so please, no picnics, dog training, kite flying, et cetera.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt from flying objects when a helicopter suddenly appears over the trees and attempts to land. So please be safe and stay off.”

Jill also noted that signage for the donor wall, the named rooms and other locations is in the process of being done and should be completed in the near future.

“The donor wall is proving to be a little bit of a challenge. We want to make sure that everyone who received a tax receipt for their donation is represented and that their names be spelled correctly as it will be very difficult to correct after the wall has been installed.

“It would be a great help if everyone emailed the foundation with their individual or family information,” that email being (also available on the foundation website at

Jill said the new board members “are tasked with ensuring we retain our present wonderful doctors and recruit two more doctors so that there is sustainability of the urgent treatment room.

“They will need the help of all islanders to make this a reality as we have many competitors for the services of a very few available doctors.”

Doctor recruitment continues with several doctors talking to Gabriola

Nancy Rowan, who chairs the GHCF doctor recruitment committee, said while there are many challenges to recruiting more doctors to Gabriola, the island has many strengths which help her committee market Gabriola as a place for a doctor with a family to choose.

She listed the new facility, as well as the two doctors already practising in the clinic as the first two strengths, noting that both doctors are being overworked without having more doctors in the clinic. Nancy cited the fact that along with their regular practice duties, the two doctors at the community care centre were attending to an average of 30 emergencies a month between the two of them.

Several doctors have visited and indicated an interest in either establishing a practice at the health centre or providing locum services.

“Two have expressed sincere interest in practising here.”

So far there have not been any signs on after visiting, but Nancy said she remains optimistic despite the fact Gabriola is up against 46 other positions available in the Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands area.


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Clinic construction post-finishing comes in $31K under budget

Derek Kilbourn, Gabriola Sounder, April 22, 2013

The Gabriola Health Care Foundation’s plan to build a community clinic came in $31,000 under the budget established by the GHCF Board over two years ago.

Chuck Conner, who supervised the clinic construction, said in his report to the board that this included the finishing of the basement level for the two basement tenants (Lifelabs and Vancouver Island Health Authority) It also included roughing in the 300 square-foot space which remains open for a third tenant.

In his report given at the GHCF annual general meeting this past Wednesday night, Chuck noted VIHA “kicked in $27,000 to help with the completion of the [bottom] floor.

“We’ve been able to build it all, totally, with no mortgage and we have a little money left over.”

The GHCF AGM was held this past Wednesday night at the Rollo Centre.

Konrad Mauch, the outgoing chair of the Building Management Committee confirmed the GHCF had signed five-year leases with both Lifelabs and VIHA. The VIHA space is for the health authority’s Gabriola Home and Community Care Offices. Lifelabs is already open in its space; VIHA is expected to move in by July 1.

To have the bottom floor finished, volunteers completed the new waiting area and the new public entrance used by the lower floor tenants.

Over the weekend of April 13 and 14, the Gabriola Lions, Gabriola Garden Club and many other volunteers put in a big burst of effort (under the supervision of Mike Phillips) and completed the landscaping of the clinic property. Financing of the landscaping and a trail to connect it to the Village was made possible through a federal New Horizons grant.

Konrad, along with Harvey Grant (GHCF Treasurer), explained one issue they ran into this year was that the BC Assessor’s office re-assessed the property based on its zoning as institutional, which will put the annual taxes at approximately $10,000.

Space such as VIHA’s, the Urgent Care room, any common spaces utilized by the GHCF and other non-profits are not required to pay taxes. The space utilized by the doctors for their regular practice as well as Lifelabs and the potential third tenant (unless that tenant is a non-profit society) are required to pay taxes based on the new assessment.


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Gabriola Community Health Care Centre wins award

Derek Kilbourn, Gabriola Sounder, April 22, 2013

Not only is the Gabriola Community Health Centre earning praise from Gabriolans, but it has also earned a Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s (VIREB) Commercial Building Award this past Thursday, April 18 in Nanaimo.

The architects (Vince and Margo Iameo) and the interior designers (Spaceworks, being Lou Gagne and Bodil Ellins) were chosen to represent the Gabriola Healthy Care Foundation at the awards banquet.

The awards recognize outstanding workmanship and design in commercial buildings north of the Malahat. Each year winners are selected by a panel of independent judges from various professional and development industries.

Builders, contractors, developers, and buildings from the commercial, industrial and revenue producing industries are eligible.

In recognizing the Centre, the judges said the, “project is very deserving of the VIREB Commercial Building Award not only because it resulted in the construction of a new primary healthcare clinic for Gabriola Island but also because it provides an inspirational example of what a community can accomplish together. From the donation of land for the clinic to be built upon to the selling of ice creams cones to raise funds as well as the donation of building supplies and in-kind labour the net “build the clinic” received donations in the amount of $1,572,000, plus substantial in kind donations.

“This project brought together a variety of groups and people of all ages focused on a common goal; namely, the betterment of their community. The building as it stands today is a symbolic testament of this great community and the people that call Gabriola Island home.”


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Health care foundation recruitment efforts ‘aggressive’

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Gabriola Sounder, March 25, 2013

Gabriola isn’t immune to the doctor shortage facing B.C. communities. Of the 46 posts in the Vancouver Island Health Authority, one of those is for Gabriola.

Nancy Rowan, Gabriola Health Care Foundation board member on the recruitment and retention team, said the foundation has been running a “very aggressive recruitment campaign” to attract one to two new family doctors to the Gabriola Health Care Centre.

Since last fall, the foundation, along with Drs. François Bosman and Tracey Thorne, has embarked on several strategies to bring more physicians to the island.

Instead of solely relying on posting with VIHA and the provincially run Health Match BC, the foundation is also posting ads in medical journals, online sites and locally; distributing 700 recruitment brochures in participant packages at the upcoming Society of Rural Physicians of Canada conference; sending over 500 electronic copies of the recruitment brochure to health centre patrons to share among their contacts; and communicating with medical schools with family residencies so new graduates know about the opportunities on Gabriola.

“It’s not about plunking someone into a vacancy. You are actually recruiting a family to a community and to a lifestyle that they want.”

Nancy Rowan, GHCF Recruitment and Retention team

Nancy said the foundation is also seeking a social media volunteer – “university students, that’s their medium now,” she said. Visit for contact info.

Obstacles to bringing more doctors to Gabriola are similar to those that people with any profession find when moving here: spouses often have difficulty find on-island employment, which can create strain, Nancy said, especially if the spouse ends up working off-island and children are in the picture.

“We’re a ferry dependent community,” Nancy added. “Some people love it and some people don’t.”

Part of difficulty in finding the right doctor for Gabriola, Nancy said, is “a lot of physicians are choosing a lifestyle that does not involve on call, nights and weekends,” a requirement for the health centre.

“If you go over the history of the clinic, one of the major driving factors was that there would be a physician available for emergencies.”

Drs. Bosman and Thorne currently attend to an average of 36 emergencies per month, in addition to their regular patient load. Nancy said they are fortunate to have Dr. Bob Henderson available as a locum.

Obstacles aside, the new health centre makes Gabriola attractive among rural communities.

“We have an amazing facility that includes three urgent treatment beds, a heliport adjacent to the building and an ambulance station adjacent to the building.

“We have two young physicians.... A lot of communities just have people who are semi-retired. We have ... physicians who are interested in providing emergency service.” She said for someone coming on board who is not comfortable attending to emergencies, the health centre provides a learning opportunity and a supportive environment.

She added the reasonable rent at the health centre and the supportive community are also appealing.

Nancy said they have had a few “nibbles” from physicians, which she said is encouraging.

“The word is slowly getting out.”

While the foundation is not alone in their efforts, and receives assistance from VIHA and the Ministry of Health. through incentives for doctors practicing in rural areas and VIHA’s own recruitment strategy, Nancy emphasized that the brunt of recruitment should be a community effort.

The foundation also has a strategy to help new physicians and their families start a home on Gabriola, such as helping them come over for interviews and tour the island; providing information about schools, housing and recreational opportunities; and if necessary, finding temporary accommodation.

“We hear the community – many people are upset about not being able to access a family physician on the island,” said Nancy. “We hear that and we are trying to do something about that.

“We are blessed – we have two extremely competent physicians who are willing to do emergency care,” she said.

The goal is to have enough doctors to have a sustainable on call system, and so Gabriolans who want a family physician on island have access to one.


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Health foundation outlines goals for Church Street clinic
Submitted by the Gabriola Health Care Foundation
Flying Shingle, Monday, January 14, 2013

The goals of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) related to the delivery of medical services at the Gabriola Community Health Centre are:
• To enable any resident of Gabriola to have a family physician practicing at the Gabriola Community Health Centre if they so desire.
• To offer timely access to scheduled appointments with physicians practicing at the Health Centre.
• To provide urgent medical care to any individual in need, at the discretion of the physician or BC Ambulance service.
In order to meet these goals the GHCF is working with the physicians to actively recruit two new doctors to establish a family practice at the Health Centre. As there is a critical shortage of family physicians in Canada, the competition is stiff. However, every effort is being made to attract two new physicians and retain the ones we currently have.
The building we all donated to and built is a Community Health Care Centre. It is called this because it is a community-owned building that will offer a range of health care services to Gabriolans. At present these include a primary care medical practice and an Urgent Treatment Room on the upper floor.
The lower level will house a medical laboratory (due to open Feb. 2013) and has room for other health-related services. We hope to announce some additional new services in 2013.
The site also has a helipad for emergency use only.
The primary care medical practice of Drs. Bosman and Thorne is run like many other such practices with fixed hours of opening, and their own patient list. Patients are seen by appointment. Since they have obligations to patients who have made appointments, and must also respond to unscheduled urgent care situations, they are obviously not always able to deal with non-urgent walk-in patients.
The Urgent Treatment Room is not a walk-in clinic for routine medical exams and procedures and was never intended to be. Its purpose is to evaluate, stabilise, and treat patients with an urgent medical problem who would otherwise require an ambulance transfer to a hospital in Nanaimo.
In many cases patients are treated in the Urgent Treatment Room and sent back home without the long trip and long wait involved in a transfer to a hospital emergency room.
In other, more serious cases, they are evaluated, stabilised, and then transferred to an off-island hospital by ambulance or helicopter.
The Urgent Treatment Room has been a great success. In the first six months of operation, it handled 219 cases (36.5 per month) and diverted the majority of these from the Nanaimo General Hospital emergency room.
The Urgent Treatment Room is not staffed on a full time basis. Drs. Thorne and Bosman are the only Gabriola doctors who are willing to be on-call for emergencies at this time.
If a Gabriolan has a medical emergency requiring urgent attention at any time, they should call 911 and request an ambulance. The BC Ambulance paramedics will then make the transfer to the Urgent Treatment Room, and call out a doctor, if that is necessary.
We greatly appreciate the efforts Gabriolans have contributed to date in making Gabriola an attractive place to establish a practice by providing a wonderful health facility. We also appreciate Drs. Bosman and Thorne for their untiring efforts to sustain their office practice and their dedication in meeting the on-call demands of the Urgent Care Treatment Room.
The GHCF will continue to work diligently on your behalf to address the expectations of our fellow Islanders


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It’s unanimous: New clinic not a ‘walk-in’ warn Duncan, Kerr
Flying Shingle, Monday, January 7, 2013

Nanaimo doctors and Gabriolans need to be informed that the Gabriola Community Health Centre – the medical clinic on Church Street – is not a walk-in clinic, Gabriolan Lois Duncan stressed in a Dec. 31 phone call.
And in a Wednesday phone interview, Janice Kerr, office manager for the medical clinic, agreed.
Duncan said she was directed by her doctor in Nanaimo to go to what is “supposedly a community clinic” on Church Street to have stitches removed. But when she got there, she said, she was told “in no uncertain terms” by the receptionist that she would not be seen unless she had a doctor at the clinic.
Duncan, who got to the clinic between noon and one, said she was given this information after being told that the office closes during those hours, and telling the receptionist that she was willing to wait.
“They should lock their doors if they are on lunch,” she said, adding that there were other people in the waiting room when she walked in.
Duncan decided she was not going to pay for another ferry ride to have her stitches removed in Nanaimo, and took them out herself, she said, although she hesitated to do so at first because they ran from her scalp to the corner of her eye.
She has always supported the GABE Shop – which raises funds to pay for clinic and other medical needs in the community – Duncan said at the beginning of her call, and as a volunteer at the tourist centre, has “been telling tourists about how we built the clinic”.
“Like probably everybody on Gabriola,” she said, she has donated towards “what I thought was a community clinic”.
She said she would do none of these things in the future.
Informed that it is the Urgent Treatment Room (UTR) – which provides emergency treatment for Gabriolans and visitors whenever on-call doctors are available – that is the community service at the Church Street clinic, and that there are no walk-in clinics on Gabriola, Duncan said newcomers need to know that.
Gabriolans also need to know “why we are calling it a community clinic when it doesn’t serve the needs of the community,” she added.
Doctors Francois Bosman and Tracey Thorne operate private practices out of the new clinic, Kerr said Wednesday. She said there is a difference between a regular medical practice, a walk-in clinic, and the UTR. She said the latter, in which on-call doctors deal with medical emergencies, is best first accessed by phone through the 911 emergency line.
Although the new clinic does not provide walk-in services, Kerr added, the doctors do try to accommodate non-patients when there is time. However they can’t always do that, she said, unless it is a “life-threatening emergency”.
They would like to do more and provide more services, she said, but with only two doctors, they can’t.
The new clinic is not accepting any new patients until they can recruit more doctors to work there, Kerr said, as both doctors are already carrying a heavy patient load. She said they have been recruiting for more doctors for a while, but noted that it’s a very competitive field.
The Church Street clinic has been very busy recently, Kerr added, as Dr. Bosman has been on holidays.
As previously reported, the Gabriola Community Health Centre at the top of Church Street off North Road is the final product of a multi-phase initiative that began with a push to provide an on-Gabriola UTR staffed by doctors who once worked out of a medical office beside the Co-op on Lochinvar Lane.
Through a community-wide campaign, funds were raised to build a one-bed UTR at Twin Beaches mall, along with medical offices for the doctors. A campaign was then launched to raise community funds to pay for a permanent, three-bed UTR and state-of-the-art medical offices, with the hope that a well-appointed building would attract enough private practice doctors to staff the UTR fulltime.
Also as previously reported, although there are currently three general practitioners serving Gabriola, Dr. Jim Mackenzie, who runs his practice out of the Gabriola Health Centre in the Gabriola Professional Centre on North Road, declined to be on-call to the UTR, having served his time at the mercy of the pager in previous practices

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