Psychiatry on Bowen Island

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Most people are referred to me because they are in distress. However, the majority, especially older folk, also have physical problems which are treated by their family physicians. It is easy to overlook the fact that psychiatric problems characterized by depression, distress, anxiety and so forth, are more often than not accompanied by physical ailments as well. After all, the brain does not function separately from the body and the society that contains it! It may surprise you to learn that many of my patients who are seen for “psychiatric problems” have social issues, care issues and even problems like wound care which have to be managed and coordinated.

It is overwhelming for the family physicians and even more so for myself, working as a solo psychiatrist, to manage such complicating factors. Enter the Caring Circle! The Caring Circle has supported over one thousand people in accessing health care on Bowen Island in the last three years of operations. As well, they have created a driver program, a lunch program, a mental health program, health education workshops and a “conscious aging” series. They are recognized as making a significant difference in improving access to health services on Bowen and increasing the confidence of Islanders to get the health care they need. It is a great relief to me to be able to pick up the phone, speak to their Director of Programs and get quick advice regarding particular services such as home health, drivers, referral to hospital and follow-up after hospital discharge and even issues like on-going home care and other medical support services so diligently carried out by a nurse with expertise in navigating the health system.

It doesn’t matter how many services we have and how many competent people we have if the patient cannot coordinate the care, and I daresay that without the Caring Circle as the fundamental anchor of information, that would in most cases be impossible. Hats off to Colleen O’Neil and the whole Caring Circle team for their diligent work! I also wish to acknowledge and express my thanks to our nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, home care workers as well as our financial supporters for their so necessary involvement. In reality, psychiatric care is comprehensive and multifactorial and without all this help, in effect a team, my work would be impossible and patients would suffer more. We may say that it takes a village, not just one man, to deliver proper psychiatric care to members of the community!

Dr. Stephen Kiraly

Dr. Stephen Kiraly MD, FRCPC is a Director on the Board of the Caring Circle Health & Wellness Society. Clinical Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Kiraly works with the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. He’s the founding author of “The Healthy Brain Program” and the book “Your Healthy Brain” written and produced on Bowen Island.

His special interests include psychoneuroendocrinology – how stress, brain cycles and hormones affect health and disease and Community and Preventive Medicine (wellness of the community).

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