Although Bill Smyth is neither new to the Queens Community Health Board (QCHB) nor the board’s executive, he is new to the role of chairman.
© Aethne Hinchliffe Photo
Bill Smyth, chairman of the Queens Community Health Board, and Francis Kangata, community health coordinator, have a lot planned for the coming year.
The QCHB has spent the last year and a half developing a community health plan with the Lunenburg County Community Health Board (LCCHB).
“It’s kind of the first time that the two boards have really got together and cooperated on putting together a plan, and it worked very well,” says Smyth.
The plan was published a couple of months ago, and it’s the first year for a five-year plan, he adds.
“It’s typically been a three-year plan,” he says.
Smyth says the boards thought five years was more realistic and would allow time to understand what’s happening.
The plan has five components, including physical health and wellbeing; healthy eating and food security; addictions; mental health; and healthy child, youth and family development.
“We’ve analyzed the needs of the community,” says Smyth.
Last year, the boards interviewed groups in the community, broken into youth, seniors and general population. The interviews helped determine the five components. There were 19 meetings, and attendees answered questionnaires at each one, explains Smyth. Following the meetings, the coordinators of each health board assembled data. The boards also collected information about what community resources exist.
The next step, says Smyth, is to determine which of the five areas to “tackle first.”
He says the boards will probably look at dealing with three of the components in five years.
“We’re establishing working committees on the board,” says Smyth.
Once the committees have been organized, Smyth will encourage members to seek volunteers from the community for help with the committee work.
“That accomplishes two things. Number one, it gets more outside people involved, and number two it gives them a chance to see how the board works,” says Smyth.
The QCHB is an advocate.
“We’re supposed to be the eyes, the ears and the voice of the community,” says Smyth.
“We’re responsible for finding out what the needs are in the community, how we can present those needs to the South Shore Health District and how we can encourage the South Shore Health District to in turn implement something that’s going to help everybody involved.”
There are 13 board members, and there can be a maximum of 15. The board meets on the last Tuesday of each month, except in July, August and December. Beginning fourth Tuesday, the board met in the community room at Queens Place Emera Centre. Meetings are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and are public, but people who wish to attend are encouraged to call first in case the time or place changes.
The QCHB gets money from the District Health Authority each year.
“Various community organizations can come to us and ask for some financial assistance,” says Smyth.
The board recently donated $1,500 to the curling club.
Smyth says the amount of money varies. Groups, which must be not-for-profit, don’t always get the amount they have requested.
Bill Smyth Chairman
Janina MacNeil Vice-chairwoman
Margo Walsh-Leaman Past chair
Leslie Miller Treasurer
Betsy Hartt Secretary