A History of our Health Centre
The Pender Harbour Health Centre (PHHC) was built in 1976 to replace St Mary’s Hospital, (now Sechelt Hospital) which was moved from Garden Bay, Pender Harbour to Sechelt. The citizens of this area (Area A) were concerned about being adequately served by a hospital so far from their location with no public transportation system and a less than adequate highway. They decided to build their own Health Centre to provide nursing and medical services to the residents of Area A. The initial building funding was obtained through the Ministry of Health and through a Sunshine Coast Regional District taxation bylaw which was passed overwhelmingly by the area residents. The clinic officially opened on December 8, 1976. The Health Centre is wholly owned and operated by the Pender Harbour & District Health Centre Society (a not-for-profit society incorporated in 1974) The PHHC serves Area A of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, a geographically dispersed area covering 1091 sq.km. (734 sq. miles) with a full time population of approximately 3,000, which more than doubles in the summer.
Since opening in 1976 the Health Centre has received two major expansions. The first expansion was completed in 1996 and more than doubled overall space, allowing for increased services of other health professionals to be made available to the community. This expansion also provided some tenant rental income to help support our financial needs. The final expansion was completed in December 2006 and the Health Centre now encompasses approximately 7,500 square feet.
Our services include four major areas: Nursing Services, Doctors’ Services, Dental Services and Specialists’ Services.
The PHHC offers 4 primary nursing care services to the community. Our RNs provide venepuncture (Lab Services), Urgent Care and Ambulatory Care Services at the Health Centre and on the road Home Care Nursing in the community. We have two Nurse Team Leaders and several casual RNs to support both the Clinic and Home Care services. Our normal hours are 8:00am – 4:00pm, Monday to Friday, as well as half days on Saturdays during the summer months. We also offer a Diabetes Education Program supported by an RN and a Registered Dietician. This program is unique to our Health Centre. We actively support seniors’ health through our involvement with the seniors’ Harbourside Friendships program, the United Way, Better at Home program and we are the sponsor for the SMART, Senior’s Initiative program. Additionally, we provide support to both the Women’s Wellness Program and the weekly Youth Drop-in clinic.
Sechelt Doctors is a practice of ten physicians, five of whom rotate between their Sechelt office and Madeira Park. Sechelt Doctors is a UBC approved Family Practice Teaching Unit. We have one – two doctors and receptionist on site daily. They have a dedicated wing in the Health Centre.
Pender Harbour Dental is a full service dental practice. At any one time we have one-two dentists and one – two hygienists on site. They also have a dedicated wing in the Health Centre.
We have several resident and visiting medical specialists delivering services from the Health Centre. They are located in the specialist’s wing. At this time they include:
- Two chiropractors who practice on average two half days per week at the PHHC.
- A Foot Care Nurse who practices one day per week at the PHHC.
- Mental Health Professionals, from the Ministry of Family & Children and the Sunshine Coast Mental Health & Addiction Services. This includes youth, adult and family counseling services. The youth services are delivered directly through the schools.
- A Public Health Nurse, who is at the Health Centre every two weeks and focused on Moms & Tots, young children and immunization programs.
- A Nurse Practitioner who is at the Health Centre 3 days per month and focused on Women’s Wellness and a Youth Drop in clinic.
- A Rheumatologist, who practices an average of two days a quarter at the PHHC.
- Two Registered Massage Therapists who practice daily at the PHHC.
- Additionally, the Health Centre boardroom is available for use by various community organizations or groups that are involved in overall general health related activities. These include TOPS, AA, hearing consultations, prosthetic fittings, the Steady Feet program, the Health Centre Auxiliary, the Pender Harbour Seniors’ Initiative program and various wellness days focused on self-management of chronic conditions.
In addition to the ambulatory, urgent, venepuncture and home care services which the Health Centre provides under its contract with VCH, the Health Centre also directly supports several other programs for the overall benefit and well being of the community. These programs are often funded by the Health Centre and delivered by a combination of our nurses and other health care professionals and volunteers. The programs are possible thanks to the generous financial support of the community and the Health Centre Auxiliary. The Health Centre is constantly looking to add and improve supplemental programs. Key current programs are as noted below.
Harbourside Friendships is the oldest program supported by the Health Centre. It was started in 1990 by two dedicated nurses, Nancy Mackay and Linda Szabados. The goal of the group was to provide a safe and friendly environment where seniors can meet new friends, socialize and enjoy a hot meal together. Due to the dedication and interest of members, this group has met on a weekly basis from September to June since the program began and involves social activities, outings and guest speakers. The nurses attend frequently to help monitor overall health levels such as heart health, blood pressure and blood sugar levels plus provide information on relevant health topics. The program is run under the Health Centre and financially supported by the Health Centre Auxiliary.
Diabetic Education and Nutritional Counseling is the second longest program supported by the Health Centre. The program was started by Nancy Mackay, RN, CDE and Dianne Paulus, RD, CDE in 2006. After a brief hiatus in 2013-2105 the program has restarted in 2016. The program focuses on a helping individuals manage their personal pre diabetic or diabetic health and also provides ongoing nutritional counseling. Additionally, there are usually 2-3 events held each year to increase community awareness that involve educational seminars, individual testing and qualified guest speakers. The program is very successful and well supported.
The Women’s Wellness program started as a pilot in 2009 between the VCH and the Health Centre. The VCH provides the services of a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and the Health Centre provides the facility space and setup, supplies, and clerical administration with support of Health Centre nurses as needed. The program promotes and provides better access to health and wellness for women of all ages in the Pender Harbour area. The program was augmented by a two year cervical screening grant obtained through the Health Centre in 2010-2011. The program is offered at the Health Centre on Tuesdays by appointment and supported, 3 times per month by the NP. Services include general health issues, education, screening for cervical cancer and breast health. When the NP is not available the clinic nurse can provide these programs within her scope of practice.
The Youth Clinic also started in 2009 as a collaboration between VCH and the Health Centre. It is run on Tuesdays from 3:00 to 5:00pm on a drop in basis. The program offers youth between the ages of 12 to 19 years of age, access to safe and confidential health and wellness services. Some of these include education on various health topics, sexual health information, birth control and screening of STIs, counseling and referring when appropriate. This program is operated by a Health Centre nurse with NP support 4 times per month. The program has been well accepted and continues to grow with new clients coming by referral or word of mouth.
Pender Harbour Seniors Initiative started in 2012 when the Health Centre received funding from VCH’s SMART Fund. It’s mission is “Improve the quality of life of seniors from Middle point to Egmont, many of whom are living in isolation by creating programs and resources which they can easily an comfortably access.” With the support of an advisory committee, the facilitator organizes diverse outings, exercise programs, information sessions and interactions between the seniors of the community and other demographics and organizations. The PHSI has also extended the Harbourside Friendships meetings to run through the summer months.
The Better at Home program is actively supported by the Health Centre in several ways. Since the inception of the program in 2013, the Health Centre has offered space for meetings of the Advisory Committee and prospective volunteers. The BAH coordinator works closely with the R.N.s who often make referrals to the program for clients they see during the delivery of home care services. The BAH coordinator also liaises with the coordinator of the Harbourside Friendships and Seniors’ Initiative programs. This relationship helps enable continuity of the Better at Home program and provides access for BAH clients to participate on outings and events which helps address the issues of isolation in our rural community.
Pender Harbour Community Garden This garden was developed in 2015 through donations from the community and financial support from the Health Centre. Recognizing the need as well as the social benefits to our community, this program was championed by Kym Harris. The garden has been very successful and provides a place for people to not only grow their own food, but to also get out, meet their neighbours and share some time together. The garden provides the opportunity to promote conversation around healthy eating habits and also helps create interaction between seniors and youth.
The Health Centre has a strong Palliative Support program. We have trained, caring volunteers who offer support as needed for patients and their families. Our home care nurses provide daily support often several times a day as needed and we have a rotational palliative callout program that our nurses support on weekends and evenings to ensure that care is provided.
The PHHC started offering Bereavement Support in the spring of 2011. The program is based on the content of the Nanaimo Hospice, who were very generous in their assistance and support as the program was developed. The program was led by the home care nurse team leader and involved the training of 6 -7 volunteers by the Sunshine Coast Hospice group. The program is run over 8 weeks of 2 hour sessions and involves interaction, many reference books/materials and weekly handouts to the participants. This course is not recommended for anyone who has had a recent loss and it is recommended the loss be at least 6 months ago. The program runs 1-2 times per year in response to community needs and offers follow up support to individuals through informal gatherings and get togethers. The feedback has been very positive for this much needed service and the volunteers provide tremendous support.
The Cardiac Care/Happy Hearts Program started initially in 2008 as a joint offering among the Elder College, the Health Centre and the Pender Harbour Aquatic & Fitness Centre focused on managing stress and having a healthy heart through diet and exercise. The program ran several times and in the fall of 2011 the home care nurse team leader determined a need for a broader program aimed at cardiac recovery for clients who had suffered an MI, cardiac stints or undergone open heart surgery. There was nothing available on the Coast. The program was based on St Paul’s Hospital and run in collaboration with the Pender Harbour Aquatic Centre. The program was aligned in 2012 with the VCH program Happy Hearts which was being standardized across the province. This program is now run by the Pender Harbour Aquatic Centre with nursing support as needed. In the spring of 2012 the Health Centre became a designated Heart and Stroke Resource and Education Centre for the Sunshine Coast.
Chronic Pain, Self – Management program. The Health Centre has 4 facilitators trained on the University of Victoria’s Centre on Aging program. The program is very relevant to our community as we have the oldest demographic on the Sunshine Coast and many individuals trying to manage chronic conditions. Availability of the program in the Health Centre means individuals do not have to find their way to Sechelt to participate in the program. Access within our community is critical. The program runs 1-2 times a year.
To provide quality health care and respond to health related needs in a respectful and caring environment
A leader in community health care