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General News · 31st August 2010
Alden Sherwood
Thank you, Board, for the update.

Although it contains some interesting information, there no answer to the big question that is causing so many of us such anguish, namely,

Why is the Board refusing to renew the lease of Doctor Overhill?

Refusal to answer this question merely postpones the resolution of the controversy that threatens the viability of the CCHA and our Health Centre.

I detect, in the update, some misconceptions about the proper function of the CCHA, misconceptions that might contribute to our problem.

In the Update there is the following statement:-

As most of you know, the CCHA is a non-profit organization that leases and operates the Cortes Health Centre. The mandate of the Association is to operate and maintain the clinic for the benefit of the Cortes community, and to ensure continuity of medical services. Our obligation is to the Cortes community, not to any particular practitioner.”

One must agree that the CCHA leases the Health Centre. But whether it operates the centre depends upon what operates means.

It certainly does not mean that the CCHA is responsible for the operation of the medical practice of the Doctor who holds the sub-lease on the centre. That is the responsibility of the Doctor.

Nor does it mean that the CCHA is responsible for deciding that that Doctor is no longer capable of providing the community with suitable medical care. If any patient has a complaint with the treatment received, he can discuss the matter with the Doctor and if this fails to satisfy, with VIHA and/or with the BCMA or with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Board has neither the authority nor the expertise to adjudicate in such matters.

Nor does it mean that the CCHA has the responsibility for evaluating the competence of candidates for a lease if such should become available. Members of the Board are not qualified to make this judgment either.

The really important responsibility of the CCHA is to lease, maintain, equip, and improve the Health Centre so that it can be sub-leased by medical practitioners whose qualifications are evaluated by VIHA and/or the medical profession.

If a doctor is judged by VIHA to have provided good care of patients in the community and who is thereby deserving of a renewal of the sub-lease, then the CCHA board should not hesitate in negotiating the sub-lease.

The organizational chart (Attached) which was devised in the early days of the Health Centre makes this quite clear. The chart indicates Lines of Authority, Lines of Communication , Lease Arrangements and Scheduling (of the use of the Health Centre). The Board has authority over the President, the Committees, the Coordinator and the Janitor. The Board has no authority over the Doctor

The CCHA is not the employer of the doctor and any attempt to behave as if it were is completely inappropriate.

On consulting minutes of Board meetings which took place in the earliest days of the Health Centre, I see that Kirstie attended almost every Board meeting and contributed greatly to discussions of all problems including financial problems, negotiations with VIHA, fundraising, the development of the facility, etc.

Can there be any rational explanation of why, in more recent times, the Doctor, the main leaseholder, is not involved in regular and frequent discussions with the Board?

Somehow, during the tenure of the present Board Kirstie has been isolated from the CCHA and at the same time, we have dug ourselves into the present pickle. Perhaps there is a connection.

I am afraid that the Update has contributed little to improve the situation.

Organizational Chart included below as a download
Can 1 doctor provide 52 wks of health care?
Comment by Gypsy Mama on 3rd September 2010
Though I don't have the full background on CCHA operations, it seems like this change to offering health care services as a full turn key operation on Cortes, has come about without any/enough community involvement or discussion. Te be fair we need to keep in mind that this type of decision making is an element of responsibility carried forth by hardworking volunteers who mostly remain behind the scenes attending the meetings required for making such decisions, at the same time I hope in heart, that this decision was necessary and for the highest good of all in our community.
However I am wondering how any one doctor can be expected to provide proper medical care in our growing community for 52 weeks of the year.
Maybe it's time to consider if we need two doctors on Cortes, so they can support each other providing much needed care during scheduled days off, continuing education and most of all avoiding the over work situations that lead to the kind of exhaustion that compromises the health of our much needed community doctors.
How can Cortes be provided with 52 weeks of available health care by one doctor?
Is part of our challenge that the changing needs of our growing community and higher need for medical support has contributed to Dr. Overhill's health condition and recovery? This is our comminty problem whether we have Dr Overhill or any other doctor doing their best to provide fulltime health care, 52 weeks/year in our remote community. Is this a reasonable expectation? We all need days off and I wonder if it's time for our community to explore having a second doctor. We are not as big a population as Quadra Island, however as my son's have been attending high school I am becoming more familiar with what's happening on Quadra and I do think we can learn from each other.
Love always,
Gypsy Mama

Corrections made
Comment by Alden Sherwood on 3rd September 2010
Peter and Ralph
Correction to CCHA Update
Comment by Pete Elliott on 2nd September 2010
I have pointed out to Alden that CCHA does not own the Medical Clinic but rather leases it from the Senior's Society on a long-term lease. This was probably an oversight but the point should be kept in mind as it might affect any lease (sub-lease?) arrangements made with a doctor or other user of the clinic space.
Support for Dr. Overhill
Comment by Mary Dudley & Donald Thompson on 2nd September 2010
It is a privilege to have such a competent and dedicated community doctor here on Cortes Island. Dr. Kirstie Overhill was instrumental in the development and later planning and staffing of the health center. To deny her continuing medical practice by the CCHA board is not within it's authority nor in the interest of the community of which it serves nor the 800 plus patients that Dr Overhill had treated during her eleven years of practice on Cortes.
We feel the community should demand an AGM meeting as soon as possible to review the boards action and hold them accountable.