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WHISTLER/LIL̓WAT7ÚL AND SḴWX̱WÚ7MESH NATION, BC (May 24, 2024)—The Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) presents the BC Rural Health Awards each spring to recognize and honour rural doctors for their inspiring contributions to improving the health of rural people and communities across BC.


Recipients of the Rural BC Community Award are selected for developing innovative and collaborative solutions to local healthcare issues. Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award must be a rural doctor who has served one or more rural communities throughout their career and have significantly impacted provincial, national and/or international rural health.


New this year is the Resident Leadership Award, which recognizes a Medical Resident in good academic standing who has demonstrated a sustained interest in rural and remote medicine in BC.


Rural BC Community Award Winner: City of Dawson Creek


The community of Dawson Creek has shown outstanding leadership and innovation to garner this year’s Rural BC Community Award.


Through a series of collaborative initiatives, the community has enhanced access to quality care for patients while easing the burden physicians and other health professionals carry.


One such initiative is the Chickadee Maternity Collaborative, a pioneering model of team-based and patient-centered maternity care. This initiative, spearheaded by Dr. Magda Du Plessis, has revolutionized maternal healthcare delivery in the region, ensuring patients receive comprehensive support throughout their pregnancy journey by a team of physicians, midwives, nurses, mental health professionals and most recently an Indigenous Patient Liaison. The Chickadee team regularly engages in quality improvement initiatives with various partners, such as the South Peace DoFP, Practice Support Coaches and the Rural Coordination Centre of BC’s Rural Obstetrical and Maternity Sustainability Program (ROAM-SP) initiative.


Additionally, the establishment of the Bulterys Patient House has addressed the need for affordable and accessible accommodation for patients traveling to Dawson Creek for medical treatment. This facility has alleviated the burden on patients and their families, providing a welcoming home away from home during challenging times. It was made possible through the fundraising efforts of the South Peace Health Services Society and a partnership with the Dawson Creek Society for Community Living that operates it.


The introduction of a locum house also underscores Dawson Creek’s commitment to supporting healthcare professionals. The locum house was made possible through a partnership between the City of Dawson Creek who own the building, the South Peace Health Services Society who provide the operational funding, and the South Peace Division of Family Practice who looks after the day-to-day scheduling and management.


“By offering comfortable, private, and secure accommodations to visiting physicians, we are actively fostering an environment that encourages medical professionals to serve our community. These initiatives stand as a testament to Dawson Creek’s collaborative spirit and innovative mindset,” said Fanni De Maio, Coordinator for the South Peace Division of Family Practice. “Through the concerted efforts of various stakeholders, the community has successfully implemented solutions that not only address immediate healthcare needs but also lay the foundation for a sustainable and thriving healthcare ecosystem.”


Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine–Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Robin Routledge


A rural psychiatrist whose innovative work in the development of therapeutic community clinics is being honoured with the Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine—Lifetime Achievement.


The impact of Dr. Robin Routledge’s leadership in rural medicine over several decades, involving full teams of health professionals and networks, has been substantial.


Robin is a long-standing Core member at the Rural Coordination Centre of BC. In this role he has championed, at the provincial level, the role of specialists in supporting family physicians and multidisciplinary teams.


At the community level, Robin’s work is a fantastic model for other rural communities.


For nearly 40 years, he led clinics in the Cowichan Valley that functioned as therapeutic communities where the participants were able to improve their health through compassion, dignity, mutual education, and self-regard.


Robin’s direct support to the rural communities of the Cowichan area are also shown in his work developing and supporting the Orcas Society; the development and support of the Cowichan Community Health Network, his focus upon homelessness; and his continued advocacy for the approach to, and acceptance of, patients with psychiatric illnesses.


Lou Mackey, Robin’s wife, said she is proud of him and knows he will continue to give back, even in retirement. “He does not want to lose his connection with people and projects,” she said.


Resident Leadership Award: Dr. Svetlana Hadikin


A resident physician who has dedicated her medical education to working towards a career in rural medicine is being honoured with the inaugural Resident Leadership Award.


Dr. Svetlana Hadikin, a second-year family medicine resident, said she has always been drawn toward a career in rural family practice. Having grown up in Castlegar, she saw first-hand the challenges that rural communities faced accessing healthcare.


“My goal has always been to contribute to alleviating a gap that is ever-present and does not seem to be shrinking, despite the best efforts of many dedicated rural family doctors,” she said.


One of the most appealing things about rural practice for Svetlana is how tirelessly rural physicians work to provide as much in-house care as possible for their patients, aiming to reduce barriers to accessing specialist care. To achieve this they are always expanding their skillsets.


Svetlana, who now lives in Rossland and works in Fruitvale, said: “I appreciate that the field is ever-changing and will constantly challenge me to learn and improve.”

She added: “As I near the final months of my family practice residency, I look forward to the years that will follow, pursuing a career that I am passionate about, surrounded by peers who also carry similar goals and values.”


Dr. Rebecca Flynn, Svetlana’s colleague, said: “Svetlana and I have been in residency together for nearly two years and I have witnessed first-hand her passion for rural healthcare. She advocates for her patients, as well as for her rural resident colleagues on a regional and provincial level.”


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About the Rural Coordination Centre of BC

Led by rural physicians, the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) is a network that improves the health of rural people and communities across British Columbia. We cultivate relationships and networks, facilitate rural health discussion, coordinate rural health projects, create learning opportunities for rural healthcare practitioners, advocate for a healthy rural British Columbia, stimulate rural health research, and develop healthcare leaders. Funded primarily by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues, our network partners include healthcare providers and administrators, community members, policymakers, academics, and non-profit and business leaders. We serve all communities covered by the Rural Practice Subsidiary Agreement.

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