Regional Meetings

The regional meetings were introduced in 2001 as a way of developing community contacts and learning the issues of specific areas. Each of these events has a similar structure but the content is shaped very much by the region. Once the sites have been chosen by the board, then the president gets in touch with leadership at the primary healthcare facility in the area to see if they are willing to host. We have held regional meetings at hospitals, health education centers, city halls, senior centers, and a longhouse.

As of the 2007 regional meetings, we switched to a different format. Instead of having one regional meeting in the late spring and one in early autumn, we now have two at the same time.

Invitations are sent to:

  • All WRHA members
  • Relevant legislators
  • Elected representatives for the area
  • All medical professionals, clinics, alternative therapists
  • Mental health and rehab facilities
  • Long-term care and residential facilities
  • Public health and environmental health
  • Dental health
  • School nurses
  • Local government - mayor, city commissioners, etc
  • Local business leaders/Chamber of Commerce members
  • Local educators, especially those involved in health professions
  • Local community groups, such as the Veteran’s Association, Eagles, Elks, Scouts, churches, etc.

The discussion is free-flowing but is intended to learn about what is working for a community as well as what is not. It is also our goal to facilitate greater connectivity within the community, since often people do not get the chance to talk about the big picture of healthcare in their community with others working on the same issues from a different perspective.

We distribute a summary of the notes from the meeting to legislators and members, as well as printing it in the newsletter. The summary is referenced when developing the legislative platform for the upcoming year. Mental health is the most commonly mentioned issue, with dental health as a close second.

WRHA Regional Meetings Recurring Issues

Factors influencing recruitment/retention of practitioners

  • Physician malpractice insurance costs/Tort Reform
  • Practitioners in area worked much harder than urban counterparts
  • Providers can be recruited but cannot keep a practice solvent
  • Health care facilities need to emphasize potential benefits of small community care
  • Low reimbursement rates
  • Difficulty competing with national average for wages

Financial Issues

  • Poor economy in area/disproportionately low-income population
  • Large proportion of population uninsured/insurance is too expensive
  • Federal underfunding of Medicaid
  • Limited treatment options for Medicare/Medicaid patients
  • Insufficient reimbursement for Medicaid
  • Problems with veterans’ benefits (complex billing, slow reimbursement)

Access Issues

  • First step of treatment for many patients is the ER
  • Clinic hours are too restricted
  • Extended travel time to certain necessary services
  • Public transportation in area is inadequate/problems with patient transport to facility
  • Area cannot attract/keep specialist providers
  • Lack of community education on services available and access options
  • Lack of community/youth education on preventative measures for health

Region lacks or is losing?

  • Pharmacy
  • Elder care services
  • In-home care/long-term care facility
  • Ambulance service
  • Dental care
  • Mental health services
  • Gynecology/obstetrics
  • Community volunteers
  • Substance abuse recovery/detoxification facility

Population Issues

  • Lack of translators for patients who speak little or no English
  • Increased illegal drug traffic and usage
  • Increased number of patients needing mental health services