In 1996, five Secwépemc communities decided to work together to explore the possibilities of health transfer. At that time this table was referred to as the pre-transfer committee and the task was to do a thorough assessment of health needs within the five communities and then proceed through negotiations to become a non-profit health society. After completing the assessment and signing the health transfer, two of the communities decided to proceed on their own and the remaining three communities: Skeetchestn, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, and Whispering Pines/Clinton, continued to work together and still do.
The Q’wemtsín Health Society (QHS) transferred in January of 2001. Our mandate is outlined in the Society’s constitution and bylaws which was signed by each Band Chief and established and instituted December 13th, 2000. The constitution and bylaws serve to direct the operations of our Society and were last reviewed and revised in September 2018 by the Board of Directors. As a Society, we have consistently been granted a ‘Certificate of Good Standing’ by the registrant of societies for the Province of British Columbia.
From 2001 to 2007 QHS delivered services and programs from an office in downtown Kamloops. Our mandate is to deliver public health services along with several targeted programs such as Youth Suicide Prevention, Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, Home and Community Care, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness, and the Children’s Oral Health Initiative to name a few. Most services were delivered at the band offices wherever we could find space until Health Canada approved the capital asset project for our building.
In 2007 we moved into our current location at 130 Chilcotin Road and in 2015 we expanded our building to add a two-chair dental clinic. In 2005 we had completed an evaluation with our communities and in 2009 we updated our Health Plan to meet the criteria for flexible funding. Both these processes provided feedback from the community members and there was an overwhelming need for General Practitioner services and many requests for alternative and traditional medicine. After we moved into our new building in 2007 we negotiated a contract with Interior Health to provide Nurse Practitioner (NP) and General Practitioner (GP) services.
This partnership has been successful and since 2016 the number of days of service has doubled. We started out with eight NP clinic days per month and currently we are now providing sixteen NP days per month. We also have a GP providing services eight days per month and over the years we have added Mental Health services, Naturopathic services, Massage Therapy and Dental treatment and services. We have built our services and programs according to the feedback we receive.
QHS always strives to do better. We have consistently expanded our services and programs to meet the needs of community members. We revised and updated the community Health Plan in 2017/18 and during that process realized a need for a Certified Diabetic Educator and Respiratory Therapy diagnostic testing. Both have long wait lists with the Health Authority, so to better meet the needs of our communities we are now providing these services. In addition, our updated health plan identified nutrition, food security, sustainable food systems and traditional wellness as key result areas to develop over 2018-2023 time frame. Under this direction, we have enhanced our programming and developed a QHS Food Sovereignty Team. We will continue to look for ways to improve what we do, in order to provide the best services possible.