TELUS | Stories – DIY Medical Clinic

( ♪ ) Gabriola is a small island
right across from Nanaimo. We’re an older community, our
average age is 57. Gabriola is full of people
that are so diverse, have incredibly
different backgrounds and you just have a much
more relaxed lifestyle. When you live on an island;
there is a barrier there that makes the devliery
of services a challenge. Access to care for Gabriolans
was a major issue. The emergency services was
literally non-existent. You had no way of
getting off the island between ten o’clock at night
and six in the morning. It’s sort of understandable
to everyone that if you have a heart
attack at 4am it’s nice if there’s someone
that can help you with that. We couldn’t stabalize
our health care because we couldn’t attract
a doctor full time. It was making Gabriola a
slightly unsafe place to live. The first meeting of all of
us I think was here. It was at this table. There was a pharmacist, there was some
retired professors, there was the family doctor who was on the island
at that moment. And through that meeting we
really got the momentum. It was very clear that
this is something that Gabriolans needed
and wanted. To consolidate services and to have a place to
consolidate those services. Then the fundraising
kicked off. We did thirty-seven community fundraising events
in eighteen months. We had the Tour de Gabriola which was the bike riding
around Gabriola. Selling Christmas trees. The Gabriola auxilary
sold a lot of ice cream. All these different
initiatives. And so we made small
amounts of money and large amounts of money through these fundraising
activities. But, more importantly we were
in the newspaper every week. We felt that if everybody
gives little amounts they start to have buy-in. And that was
really important. This whole thing from
the get-go has shown that the community
supported it. And it got built because
the community supported it. I was approached to see
if I would like to join in and help
them out. I have a construction
management background. We had planned to do as
much as we could with volunteer labour, to
keep the cost down. There was a core who came
every day; rain of shine. Worked a full eight hour
day and it was great. This building was
created by Gabriolans. Literally with their hands. The average age of the
construction workers on this clinic was
seventy years old. A lot of them were
patients at the clinic. It was interesting to watch the weight loss of about
ten to fifteen pounds, the improvements in
blood pressure. And the place was built
on time, on budget. Incredible. This clinic is just another
example of the power of volunteers. This facility and
the technology that’s gone into it, it was the beginning. And that beginning is
a catalyst for change. The ease of how
we work has certainly improved
dramatically. We’ve gone from one doctor working in a converted
liquor store to three full time doctors, visiting specialists and complementary
health care providers working together as a team. Since the clinic has
been built we’ve as a community,
we have begun to put into place those things that make
us all healthier. Better food, better housing,
better mental care. That’s really the journey that we’ve been on
as a community.

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