Recent History – 2001
April 11, 2001, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Psychiatric services in Dawson Creek will benefit from an announcement made Tuesday by the federal Liberal government.
Ottawa will commit $400,000 to a mental health evaluation and community consultation unit at the University of British Columbia.
The unit will help develop telemental health services, increasing access, efficiency and quality of mental health services to rural and communities in B.C.
Telemental health, which allows local patients to access sessions with psychiatrists based elsewhere in the province through a video-conferencing system, has been in operation at Dawson Creek and District Hospital since June 2000.
In a live telecast, in which that very same equipment was used to establish a link between Vancouver and the hospital, Health Minister Allan Rock and Vancouver-South Burnaby MP Herb Dhaliwal made the announcement.
In all, Ottawa will contribute over $7 million to five initiatives in health information and telehealth in British Columbia through the Canada Health Infostructure Partnerships Program (CHPP).
“These projects will help provide better child health care, will implement telemedicine in remote areas of B.C. and the Yukon, establish an important health provider registry and, last but not least, provide better quality and easier access to mental health care services,” Rock said.
CHPP is a two-year, $80 million federal program announced by Rock in June 2000 along with the federal government’s rural health strategy.
Tracy McLellan, an in-patient clinical co-ordinator for Peace Liard Mental Health Services welcomed the news. Particularly helpful will be access to subspecialty psychiatric services through the program.
“I see this expanded service being a great opportunity to enhance the mental health programs offered in our region,” she said.
Rock agreed however, that telemental health cannot replace on-site psychiatrists, and noted that rural and remote communities suffer from a shortage of health care professionals at all levels.
But he also noted that an office of rural health has been opened to develop a national strategy, and a national summit on rural health was held in Prince George in October 2000.