Working Group looks at establishing a Community Health Centre in Pictou County

A group of Pictou County residents has a new vision for health care that it believes will compliment current services.
Sue Arsenault and Dominic Boyd, members of the Pictou County Community Health Centre Working Group, spoke to MOPC Council Monday about plans to create a community health centre that would fill the gaps being felt in the current health care system.
“Five of us started discussing the idea and reaching out to people who have worked in health, public health, hospitals and the community,” said Arsenault. “We thought maybe this was something we could envision for our county.”
The idea came to the attention of the group after they learned of the successful work being done at a community health centre in Yarmouth. Planning is very much in the early stages as it is currently doing research with the goal of developing operational models and a business plan in the next few years.
A community health centre is a not-for-profit organization owned by the community, making it flexible and responsive to changing community healthcare needs.
It provides access to doctors, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals like dietitians and counselors. It also extends healthcare services beyond primary health care, said Boyd. It focuses on keeping people and communities healthy by addressing underlying social issues that impact health. The centres also focus on social determinants of health, public health, community building and programming.
As part of its research, it is contacting local community groups and municipalities asking for people’s opinions about gaps in health care that could be filled by such a centre while not replace existing services.
“This is about communities taking control of their own health care and needs by working together,” said Boyd. “At times, government is like a glacier moving and this is a way for communities to feel empowered.”
MOPC Councillors said the centres services should be offered in both the east and west of the county and questioned how this centre will recruit physicians and health care workers when the province is struggling to do so. It also asked how health care workers would be paid for the work they do.
Arsenault stressed that funding for the centre is still being looked at from all angles, including having assistance from the province. The group has requests into speak with Premier Tim Houston and local MLAs and it has received support from Aberdeen Health Foundation and the Sutherland Harris Foundation so it could hire a consultant to move the project forward.
She said the working group recognizes issues are different for people depending on many things such as health care needs, income and where they live. For example, someone living in rural Pictou County, might not be able to visit their health provider as often because of transportation issues, so this is where the group believes mobile clinics could be useful.
“We don’t know what this is going to look like. We might have physical space plus a mobile unit. We are trying to make health care as accessible as we can. We are trying to work with all other primary health care services, and we are trying to develop something that is part of the whole system.”
Anyone wanting to contact the Pictou County Community Health Centre’s project steering committee can do so by emailing