The Kootenay Boundary Patient Advisory Committee & Community (PACC) is pleased to announce the launch of “Empowering the Citizen Patient.”

In challenging times, with a family practitioner shortage and many barriers to patient care, the “Empowering the Citizen Patient” initiative strives to uplift community spirit, deliver actionable tips, and help everyone participate more effectively in their health care at all levels.

“Knowledge is the cornerstone of empowerment,” says PACC CoChair, and Grand Forks resident, Leora Gesser. “As a community member and patient, I want to reassure community members that the voice of patients is being heard. I want to tell people about all the amazing, collaborative efforts going on to make our health system work better for us, and that we can get involved ourselves to help improve our health and health care in Kootenay Boundary. That’s what being a citizen patient is all about.”

The first article in the campaign, “Healthy People, Healthy Communities – What’s Happening in Health Care?”, includes an easy-to-understand, interactive infographic to help residents quickly see who handles what in our health care system. The infographic makes it easy to see how teamwork is key to improving health care: government agencies, health authorities, practitioners, non-profit organizations, Aboriginal organizations, and patient advocacy groups are all working together collaboratively.  This first article also features a useful list of resources, making it easier for patients to find the support they need for their own health care.

“Reading this article is a way for people to get information to ensure that their health care needs are being met,” says Sandi McCreight, resident of Castlegar BC and local seniors advocate and educator.  “We need to take charge of this ourselves.  Knowledge is power.  Once you start reading this information, it leads to more  learning. I would encourage people to follow this series and learn as much as they can.”

Madeleine Perriere, resident of Slocan says, ” With the knowledge of how the medical system works, we have a better chance to understand and even get involved in improving our health system. This article is clear and informative for us to navigate according to our needs.”

“As a Kootenay Boundary resident, understanding the health care system felt like trying to decode a complex puzzle,” says Arlene Parkinson, resident of Warfield, BC. “Although I have been extremely lucky to have a family doctor, many others are struggling in their quest for consistent health care. This article, especially the visual infographic, will help to give more clarity. It’s empowering to know how the system works, and with that knowledge, I feel more confident making informed decisions about my health and that of my community.”

Future articles in the series will cover information about health conditions (e.g. chronic pain, hypertension, and osteoarthritis), understanding and destigmatizing mental health challenges, as well as  tips on what to do before, during and after health care appointments.

Maria Klement, PACC Co-Chair and Bonnington resident adds, “Our Empowering the Citizen Patient campaign passes on valuable information we’ve collected, and it serves as a call to action. Throughout the series we will be actively seeking feedback from Kootenay Boundary residents to ensure that patient voices are heard, and represented at every level of health care.”