Health care co-op for Digby recruiting members

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on August 1, 2014
Nurse Practitioner Connie Daye says a health co-operative is a way for people to take back control of their health care.
Kelly/ FILE

A group of Digby area residents want to form a health care co-operative as an alternative way of providing health care.

Between 15 and 20 local people have been meeting to discuss the formation of a co-op and have settled on an interim board of Connie Day, Lil Graham, Cathy Peck and Sheri Mitchell.

That board is working to incorporate the Due East Health and Wellness Cooperative, recruit members and hold a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 10 at the Seabrook offices of the Municipality of the District of Digby.

“It’s extremely important that we take back control of the health care system,” says Day. “Access to health care is a determinant of health and when you don’t have access to care, health suffers.”

Day says they are hoping to find 200 people to join the cooperative.

How exactly membership will work, how it will be funded, and even just what health care services will be provided will be determined by the membership.

Day says they will use a round-table discussions or a formal health care needs assessment or a combination of both to make those decisions.

She says some of the non-traditional ways of providing primary health care could include technology that allows a doctor to live and work where ever they want, while consulting and supporting a health care team here.

She says we could also make better use of the many health care providers in the community like pharmacists who can prescribe and nurse practitioners who can work under expanded scope of practice. “The area has a history of health care professionals not staying,” said Day. “We have a history of recruiting physicians, they stay for a short period of time and then they go away. This is not a long-term solution. We need to start thinking outside the box.”

She says the membership could explore using Medibus, or not, to provide some services.

Medibus is mobile health care platform that began offering primary health care in the Digby area in the fall of 2013 but closed up before Christmas.

Medibus used a nurse practitioner in the trailer supported by a doctor via video and telephone conferencing.

The Minister of Health and Wellness Leo Glavine explained in February that the province faced regulatory obstacles in allowing Medibus to bill MSI for the services it provided.

Day began exploring the idea of a health care co-operative when she was working as the nurse practitioner with Medibus here.

After Medibus closed, people in the Digby area were approaching her and other people associated with Medibus to talk about what could be done.

Jennifer Murdoch, business manager with Medibus, helped arrange the steering committee meetings to pass on all the information they had about health care cooperatives.

Besides forming the interim board, the people who attended the steering committee meetings also produced a sheet of frequently asked questions explaining what a co-op is and how it might work here.



Due East Health and Wellness Co-operative FAQ’s

What is a health care co-operative?

A health care co-operative is a group of people who have formally incorporated as a co-operative to meet their mutual health and wellness needs.

More than 70 health co-ops across Canada exist to provide a range of services to communities.

In Canada the health care co-op sector is coordinated nationally through the Health Care Co-operatives Federation of Canada.

Health co-ops serve over a million Canadians and over 200 million globally, addressing the social determinants of health in such areas as:

• home care

• access to culturally appropriate wellness and health support

• providing facilities and services for wellness and health providers

• wellness and health outreach and health centres

• extended health benefits programs

• ambulance and paramedic services

• seniors residences

What will the Due East HWC do for our community?

Due East Health and Wellness Cooperative will play an important role in the community by:

• providing affordable, accessible, appropriate care mandated by the Canada Health Act.

• helping to ensure timely access to primary care.

• identifying and dealing with problems at the earliest stages.

• helping to maintain optimal wellness and prevention from disease and accident.

• striving for continuity in practitioner-patient and client relationships.

• providing community leadership in achieving the basics of good primary health care.

- from the steering committee of the DEHWC