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Mayor’s Column – March 14, 2018

March 14, 2018


It will have been about three years by the time you read this column – for those who can remember. Way back then (it almost seems like prehistory) Chetwynd was going through a sort of crisis. The District of Chetwynd had just completed the building of the Clinic and staffing the facility, though a function of Northern Health, was high on our minds.

Many potential clients were restive and other communities seemed to offer more security for medical services on demand (you know about hope for greener grass over the fence – it usually turns out to be mixed with a few weeds). Meanwhile, the still-understaffed Clinic, with a core of committed professionals, was serving the needs of its clients while, at the same time, developing its potential as a full-service Primary Care facility. Northern Health, all the while, was using its considerable capacity to attract additional medical staff.

Today we welcomed Dr. Al-Bayatti who rounds out our complement of five full-time physicians.

Today we can confidently affirm that we have a fully staffed, fully functioning primary care medical clinic capable of servicing the needs of our home town at the level of family physician practice and trauma care. Granted, there are services that are not available in Chetwynd. But let’s face one unambiguous fact: some services will never be available in Chetwynd.

(For some services we will always have to go to Edmonton or Vancouver or Dawson Creek or Fort St. John. I, for one, however, am thankful for the system we enjoy here in Canada, a little bit of which we have here in our home town. It was a long time coming to maturity; let’s try not to abuse it.)

Chetwynd’s full-service Primary Care Clinic provides more than on-site medical examinations and prescriptions. In addition to the five physicians, the clinic is home base for a nurse practitioner, an inter-professional team of seven personnel providing home-care nursing, immunizations, and prenatal assessments. Two mental health counsellors complete the team of professional health-care providers.

It’s all about people and service to the people of Chetwynd and those caught here by accident or sickness while passing through.

If I have to be sick or broken, I’d rather experience the pain here than in the biggest and shiniest of institutions anywhere else. Granted, the professionals here might elect to send me out to a more sophisticated facility in the bright lights but I will leave that decision to those who know best.

Which brings the topic to hospital care.

The team at the hospital is working well. One helpful factor at the hospital would be a more robust nursing staff. That’s a tough challenge given the absence of nurse training in the North East. (Have you contacted your MLA on this topic since I urged you to do so a few weeks ago? Don’t put it off longer and then do it again. Give him no rest.)

Which brings me back to the clinic. A minimum of 27 walk-in patients are seen every day and making an appointment has never been easier. This is astonishing! Wait times at the clinic have been reduced dramatically. You won’t expect or receive better service anywhere. I would be negligent if I didn’t note the correlation between great service at the clinic and a reduced load in hospital emergency.

Am I promoting our Primary Health Care Clinic? Of course! Why not?

What other services would you like to have provided in Chetwynd? Travelling specialists? Ultra sound? Birthing? Other? How about other? Maybe something else?

We do have to be realistic with our expectations but there’s no harm in talking over your needs the next time you visit your personal physician at your Primary Health Care Clinic right here in your home town. And let it be known: there is no place where you will sign up a personal physician with more ease and satisfaction than right at home.

Oh, by the way, to take some pressure off the professional service providers and add a bit still-understaffed of zest to your lives, spend a little time each day in strenuous idleness. And further: “if I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself” (Adolph Zukor on birthday 100).


Merlin Nichols, Mayor