When you are sick you go to the doctor. Your doctor listens to your concerns, examines your symptoms and recommends a treatment. That’s how your doctor cares for you.
But your doctor also cares for you in many other ways.
Your doctor advocates on your behalf for system change that results in more positive health outcomes for patients. Your doctor sits on committees and boards that make important decisions about health care delivery and your experience as a citizen and a patient in this province. Your doctor also supports the programs and events that strengthen communities and keep people well, before they need to see a doctor at all.
Are you surprised to learn how much your doctor is doing behind the scenes, after hours and in between patients?
Doctors are often leaders in their communities, not only because they provide care to thousands of patients, but because they create and support programs and events that enhance the welfare of the province’s communities.
In addition to individually supporting events, last year Nova Scotia’s doctors collectively donated approximately $178,960 to worthy organizations through its medical association Doctors Nova Scotia.
Here are just a few ways your doctor’s financial support of community programs is helping Nova Scotians lead healthier lives.
From September 2014 to date alone, Nova Scotia’s doctors have given $40,960 to charitable, medical research and healthy living organizations.
Each year, hundreds of groups apply for financial support through an online application process and are selected based on their impact in the community, reach of programming, as well as other factors.
This year, a variety of groups were sponsored ranging from running and physical activity events to annual health research fundraisers. For example, the Truro medical community, with support from Nova Scotia Health Authority and Doctors Nova Scotia, organized a fun run for elementary and junior high school students in the Truro area.
This year alone, doctors supported 60 community organizations and events throughout the province, like the Do it For Dads Walk and Run, FANfit Challenge, The Heartland Tour, Love NS, A Different Stage of Mind, Ice Bucket Challenge, Youth Skills March Break Camp, Festival of Trees, and Nova Scotia’s Children and Youth Vital Signs.
In addition to the ongoing community sponsorships, doctors are also supporters of several major health promotion initiatives in the province.
Nova Scotia’s physicians have sponsored the Doctors Nova Scotia Youth Run at the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon since its inception in 2004. The event attracts runners of all ages and fitness levels. This past May over 3,667 youth plus their parents and siblings participated in the run. Many had prepared for the fun run by training in the Doctors Nova Scotia Kids’ Run Club throughout the school year.
Additionally, Doctors Nova Scotia sponsors the Doctors Nova Scotia Fiddlers Youth Run in Sydney, Cape Breton each year. Over 1,700 youth participated in the fun run this summer.
However, Sport Nova Scotia (SNS) is doctors’ largest investment. SNS brings sport and physical activity to all Nova Scotians, including youth who face financial barriers to participating in sport.
Unfortunately, one in five children in Nova Scotia live in poverty.
Growing up in poverty is associated with increased risk across a wide range of later-life outcomes, such as impaired cognitive development, antisocial behaviour, greater likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, higher levels of teenage births, and higher incidence of mental illness and increased health-care costs (Unicef, 2013).
One small way doctors are trying to address this issue is through supporting Sport Nova Scotia, an organization that helps make sport more accessible to children. Organized sport is associated with not only improved physical health, but also plays are role in youth development, including improved academic achievement, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, and better psychosocial.
Doctors Nova Scotia Strive Award
Doctors Nova Scotia created the Strive Award in 2011 as a way to help recognize the important work community volunteers are doing to improve the health and welling of the people and families who make up our communities.
Each year, the Strive Award is presented to a Nova Scotia community group making innovative and strategic action to support and promote health. The award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant for the winning organization to use to bolster its community health promotion activities.
The winner of the 2015 Strive Award was Walk in Our Shoes (WiOS), a not-for-profit organization that provides free foot care and footwear to homeless people in Halifax.
Working in conjunction with the weekly community supper at St. Andrew’s Church, WiOS distributes hundreds of pairs of socks and shoes each month, as well as providing foot care and screening for diabetes and hypertension – common health issues in the homeless that also contribute to foot disease.
The program is run by Dr. Colin Van Zoost. By winning the award this year, Dr. Van Zoost will enable WiOS to continue to provide an essential service for many in the HRM, including ongoing health promotion initiatives like vaccination programs, education about alcohol consumption and promoting good nutrition.
Supporting community programs and investing the health and well-being of all Nova Scotians is a commitment your doctors make to you.
Do you know a doctor that goes above and beyond the call of duty to help improve patient care in Nova Scotia? Add your story to the Story Map today!