Wednesday night’s Open Board Forum in Richmond saw health care updates provided by Chief Operating Officer Jennifer MacKenzie (pictured above) and Richmond’s Medical Health Officer, Dr. Meena Dawar.

VCH Open Board Forum rolls into Richmond

VCH’s Open Board Forum took place in Richmond on Wednesday, February 22, and the public learned, among other things, the ways in which health care is changing to meet growing need.

According to VCH President and CEO Mary Ackenhusen, the health authority, guided by its True North goals, is striving to keep people in their own homes longer through the adoption of innovative strategies and technologies. She cited “Tech at Home” as one of the ongoing VCH pilot projects that could result in fewer ED visits by people with chronic diseases, such as COPD and congestive heart failure, because telehealth gives people immediate access to the care they need to stay healthy.

“This is not just change for change’s sake,” added Ackenhusen. “This is about our need to transform the health system from one that focuses on treatment to one with a focus on wellness.”

An estimated 50 people attending Wednesday's Open Board Forum in Richmond.

An estimated 50 people attended Wednesday’s Open Board Forum in Richmond.

Held in Richmond Hospital’s Fisher Auditorium, the forum also included presentations from Richmond’s Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer MacKenzie, and Richmond’s Medical Health Officer, Dr. Meena Dawar. See links to PDF files below. An estimated 50 people attended the two-hour session.

Growing home and community care

In her 10-minute presentation, MacKenzie spoke to the community’s fast-growing seniors’ demographic out of which Richmond’s cross-continuum seniors’ strategy has developed.

“It comes as no surprise to us that seniors want to remain at home for as long as possible,” she said, citing work throughout 2016 focused on growing home and community care to support this goal. “Not only are seniors happier in their own homes, but they also function better.”

Key to this work, according to MacKenzie, is development of the Primary Care Home, a project undertaken in partnership between VCH Richmond and the Richmond Division of Family Practice.

When the project’s Phase One is launched later this spring, it will see an estimated 500 frail seniors in Steveston benefit from access to enhanced care from their GP’s office. The project will expand across Richmond in subsequent phases after the Phase One launch.

Journey to wellness

Shifting focus to wellness, Richmond’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Meena Dawar explained that Richmond — while home to a healthy and long-lived population with low rates of obesity and high rates of childhood immunization — is facing its own set of community and population health challenges.

According to data collected from several sources, Dr. Dawar said Richmond’s childhood poverty rate is the third highest in BC and physical activity rates for both adults and youth is also low. Social connectivity in Richmond is also lower than in other communities with only 42% of residents having four or more people to turn to for help when they need it.

“This is certainly related to the number of years that people have lived in the country,” she said, connecting the rate to the numbers of new Canadians living in Richmond. “People who are here more than 10 years tend to have better social connectedness.”

In her closing remarks, Dr. Dawar noted that the built environment, too, has far-reaching impacts on community health, ranging from influencing the use of transit to making healthy food choices. “It’s important to shape the environment so that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice.”

Want to read the presentations in full?

Click on the PDFs below:

Jennifer MacKenzie presentation

Dr. Meena Dawar presentation

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