Burns Lake’s newest doctors – Dr. Tammy Williams and Dr. Charl Badenhorst – are hoping to implement a new model of care in Burns Lake.

The new doctors started working out of the primary care clinic inside the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre last April and May, respectively.

Dr. Williams, originally from Nova Scotia, moved to Burns Lake from Vancouver Island. She said that what brought her to Burns Lake was the opportunity to provide primary care and acute care under the same roof.

“We’re doing primary care, and we have immediate access to laboratory, radiology and I can access the emergency room as well,” she explained. “That’s what really appealed to me.”

“I had a patient who had broken her arm, and I didn’t have to go to emergency; I could access the radiology, then we went upstairs and I put a cast on her.”

Dr. Williams worked in an emergency room in Powell River for 15 years before opening up a walk-in clinic in Black Creek.

“My first 15 years were emergency [medicine], but it’s been a while since I’ve done emergency, so now I can be a GP and have access to acute care,” she said.

Dr. Badenhorst was born in South Africa and moved to Canada in 2001. Before moving to Burns Lake, he was working in Fort St. John. He said Burns Lake should be proud of its hospital.

“For me, this is a six-star hospital,” he said. “I think the facility and the people are excellent, and the community can be happy that we have a facility like that.”

Furthermore he said the $55-million hospital presents an opportunity to implement a new model of care that Northern Health has been moving toward. In this new approach, patients and their families would be involved as equal partners with an inter-professional team – made up of nurses and a variety of health professionals – in developing their plan of care.

“We can function as family practitioners, but we don’t just want to be family practitioners,” explained Dr. Badenhorst. “We would like to do primary healthcare work, and that means going out in the communities, collaborating with stakeholders, working with nurse practitioners, working with staff in the clinic, working with inter-professional teams and other resources to develop interventions to prevent illnesses and keep people away from hospitals.”

“I think prescriptions don’t heal people, we have to help people change their lifestyles, and have access to education,” he continued. “They should know that coming to us is not the answer; so we can help them to heal themselves, looking after their elders, looking after the sick members of the community, and we can give them the support to do that, and the education.”

“We have a fantastic opportunity to practice medicine in such a way that complement the philosophies of primary healthcare and public health strategies, but that is still in the making,” he added.

Dr. Badenhorst said that since the Burns Lake hospital is one of the first Northern Health facilities with primary care and acute care under the same roof, Burns Lake has an opportunity to lead the way.

“We are all learning from that, and we would like to share our experiences with our colleagues and other clinics,” he said. “We have an opportunity to figure out how to work with GPs, hospitals, acute care, everything under one roof.”

Both doctors said the community has been very welcoming so far and that they believe they will settle well in northern B.C. Dr. Williams said she’s an avid outrigger paddler while Dr. Badenhorst said he enjoys fishing and hunting.

“We’re feeling very welcomed,” they said.


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