A positive culture of health and wellness includes taking charge of our own well-being and having available, responsive health care. The opportunities for a healthy lifestyle and access to expert medical providers shape our health profile.
The estimate of the number of “unattached” patients— those without a regular medical doctor—in Powell River can vary depending on the source you look at. The Powell River Division of Family Practice reports that 25% of our population were unattached in 2014, based on their 2012-13 Attachment Algorithm and their own 2014 community survey of 857 people locally. This is likely more accurate than the 17% unattached rate for our area in 2014 estimated by the “My Health, My Community” report, which was derived from a smaller survey. Under either estimate, Powell River’s unattached rate is higher than the average rate for the North Shore/Coast Garibaldi Health Region (of which we are part). That rate has been steady between 2011 and 2014 at 13.5%.
The life expectancy of a person born in Powell River between 2010 and 2014 was 80.6 years, which is essentially no change from 80.5 years for those born 2006- 2010 reported by Vital Signs four years ago. For the 2010- 2014 period, the BC life expectancy was 80.8 years. Powell River does better than Vancouver Island North, at 78 years, but worse than the lower Sunshine Coast or Courtenay, both at 82 years.
Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Arthritis
The “My Health My Community” report shows that Powell River has one of the highest rates of obesity in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Our rate is 37.9% compared to 17% for VCH as a whole. That’s just a bit under the worst obesity rate in any community within VCH (39.1%). Our high blood pressure rate is also among the worst at 29.6%, compared to 16.4% for all of VCH, and so is arthritis at 21.1%, compared to the 12.4% rate for VCH. Some of these high rates may be explained in part by our large proportion of older residents.
Powell River has better rates of physical activity (150 minutes/week or more) at 53.8% compared to the 46.4% VCH average. We also excel at eating 5+ servings of fruit and veggies daily—35.3% for Powell River vs. 27.2% for the VCH average. We have an especially low binge drinking rate at 15.4% compared to 23.4% for VCH. On the other hand, slightly more of us smoke (11.6% vs. 10.6%) and more spend their time staring at screens—55% in Powell River spend 2+ hours per day compared to 48.8% across VCH.
From the Survey …
Over the last four years, have you been more able or less able to get good medical care and support here in Powell River?
In spite of the ongoing problems with finding a regular medical doctor, vulnerable groups like seniors and new residents say they have been more able to get good medical care over the last four years.
Biking Promotes an Active Lifestyle
Powell River’s Bike to Work Week 2015 included 308 riders in 22 teams (with 45 riders new to riding to work). Those riders cycled a collective 9,062 km over the week of May 25-31, saving 1,965 kg of greenhouse gases. Across BC, 34,261 riders in 46 communities rode a cumulative total of 1,411,161 km and saved 306,087 kg of GHGs.