PHOTO: Langley Division of Family Practice executive director Ellen Peterson and chair Dr. Leo Wong oversaw the attachment process locally. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
Langley doctors and their staff have whittled down the list of patients without GPs by 8,340 people over the past two years since the province created the GP for Me program.
To celebrate reducing the number of people with family doctors, the umbrella group for Langley’s 118 GPs and seven nurse practitioners hosted a banquet last week.
The goal of the attachment initiative started out to find GPs for 5,500 local residents. Instead the Langley Division of Family Practice and local medical community helped 8,340, including many of the most difficult populations (the frail elderly, young people needing mental health treatment, people with multiple illnesses, those with substance abuse issues and the homeless).
“The common ground we all share is patient care,” said Dr. Leo Wong, who board chair of the Langley Division of Family Practice (LDFP).
He added that the goal was achieved and surpassed for a few reasons, including better record keeping, partnerships, sharing of resources and a commitment by the local medical community.
“GPs, NPs and MOAs in every practice were encouraged to identify and change things in small and large ways. There were thousands of tactics deployed in multiple areas,” said Ellen Petersen, the executive director with LDFP.
Despite finding GPs for so many people, the project won’t stop.
“There’s still a ways to go, we’ll need patients, service organizations, health authorities and primary care providers to all work together going forward,” Petersen said.
After a hearty dinner on June 23, the GPs and their guests then spent the evening figuring out how to increase the number of local residents who have family doctors.
The doctors, nurse practioners, medical office assistants, health authority groups, community group representatives and patients brainstormed about what’s next for the remaining 5,000 local residents without GPs.
“We estimated at the beginning that 13,500 patients were unattached [without family doctors],” Wong explained.
For many attending the banquet, knowing that’s available in the community was key so the different health professionals can provide information to the patients.
“I think there’s lots of opportunity to work together more,” said Shannon Todd Booth, representing the Langley Hospice Society.
Cameron Eggie, the residential services manager at the Gateway of Hope, nurse practioner Mika Nonouchi, and outreach worker Fraser Holland spoke about their work together to improve the health of people who are homeless, poor or at risk. It’s a population that’s difficult to serve in a traditional doctor’s office but the attachment initiative didn’t ignore such residents.
Eggie said when people feel they are not alone, they are more likely to care about themselves. Having such community efforts also reduces the number of visits to the emergency room for non-emergency cases.
“We have seen tremendous success with individuals who took better care of themselves,” he commented.
Nonouchi noted that some of the clients have found housing or moved into transitional housing, which helps improve their health.
The province created the GP for Me program but didn’t impose how to go about the work.
“Each community took a different approach based on their needs, resources and services, we also started at different times. We haven’t seen final reporting from our neighbouring communities,” he said.
PHOTO: For the past couple of years, the local medical community has been working to match more patients with GPs. The goal was 5,500 patients. On June 23, they found out how many patients have been attached to GPs. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)