Castlegar patients asked to make their voices heard

Patients interested in changing the face of health care in B.C. are invited to take part in an initiative coming to Castlegar for the first time.

  • Jun. 20, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Patients interested in changing the face of health care in B.C. are invited to take part in an initiative coming to Castlegar for the first time.

The Patient Voices Network (PVN) is an initiative of ImpactBC, which looks to patients for ideas on how to improve the health-care experience within the province.

“If there are health-care changes that are occurring that are affecting patients, patients should be at the table providing feedback,” Carol Stathers, interior liaison for PVN said.

The program is offered in collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s ‘Patients as Partners’ initiative.

Started a year and a half ago, Stathers said the program has already placed 450 patients within the program, and have had a demand for a Kootenay chapter.

“Our program then, identifies and invites patients to come into our network and there we provide an orientation session for them so they learn a little bit about the health-care system and they learn about opportunities they could get involved with,” Stathers said. “It may be that they’re just learning about health-care changes … and it may be across the continuum where they might be sitting on a committee made up of [healthcare professionals] and patients.”

Stathers said they ensure patients are comfortable with the health-care system before they go into a meeting, and they spend quite a bit of time matching the right patient for the situation.

“We’ve had requests where they’ve asked for patients to be at the table for a transition from family doctors to specialist,” she said.

There are many different ways patients become involved with the program too.

“Patients come to us in all different ways,” she said. “Sometimes patients find us by just looking up health care on the Internet. They may get recommended that they get involved from a health-care professional or family doctor because maybe they seem that they’re interested in change.”

Stathers stressed the group isn’t about lobbying and they aren’t angry about the health-care system.

“We really want to make sure that it’s the right time and they’re in the right place to participate with an open mind,” she explained. “How to best communicate in these situations, and if someone is very angry about a situation that has happened to them, we work with them to get them to a point where they can really participate and engage.”

There have been three orientations to the program so far – all in the Okanagan. Stathers said she hasn’t set a date for the Castlegar area yet because she wants to gauge interest, but is looking at mid-July.

“We are trying to get a real variety of people,” she said.

This includes a focus on families and new mothers, a focus on aboriginal people and a focus on all different ethnicities.

For more information, visit impactbc.ca or call 1-888-742-1772.