The Collective Impact Network (CIN) is a Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) sponsored initiative, being co-led by PAN acting as the backbone. It consists of the six PHSA-contracted agencies that are supporting the community-based response to HIV and HCV, alongside the PHSA, and including the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and BC Women’s Hospital.
The goal of the CIN is to facilitate collaboration on priority areas that will best support people living with HIV and HCV and the frontline organizations that serve them. We are featuring blogs on each agency in the CIN and what they bring to the CIN… so you can get to know them, hear some stories and meet the people!
Pacific Hepatitis C Network (PHCN)
Deb Schmitiz, Operations Manager
The Pacific Hepatitis C Network (PHCN) is a non-profit community-based organization working with our community and stakeholders to inform, support, and strengthen our response to hep C in BC AND to support access to care, treatment and support for people living with hepatitis.
Personally, what led you into taking on your role?
When I moved from northern BC, I was interested in being involved with higher-level work that could potentially have wider impact for more people by addressing barriers, especially those created or held in place by public policy. I’d done some work as a regional rep with the then Hepatitis C Council of BC and was approached by them to do some work in 2008. I’ve been with PHCN in one capacity or another since then.
Can you tell a story that excites you about the impact your work is having?
Seeing the provincial government take steps towards dropping the qualifying criteria for hep C treatment and indicate that screening guidelines for hep C in BC will include testing those in the 1945-1964 age is very exciting.and can have enormous impact in BC (more people captured, better choice and flexibility for accessing treatment, averted poor health and relatively massive costs to public health care). We, and a few others, have consistently provided evidence about the cost-benefit and the human-benefit of these policy changes to key government officials for a number of years now. The flipside of our work is what we provide on the Help4Hep BC Helpline and there, the stories of people reaching out and finding help is what truly motivates our work and for me, is something of a full circle. Also, the Help4Hep BC Helpline being referred to as a useful resource in answer to a survey question is exciting because it tells us that we are on the right track, at least from that person’s point of view.
What is the unique value that your agency brings to the Collective Impact Network (CIN) and its priority areas?
PHCN certainly brings a hepatitis C focus and expertise to the CIN’s priority areas. In maintaining a dedicated hepatitis C-specific provincial organization, we’ve been able (as 2. above illustrates) to intently listen to the lived experience of hep C in BC, as well as to other key stakeholders, and then articulate both policy changes needed, inform strategy and establish a service to begin meeting some needs of people living with hep C in British Columbia. We can bring the experience to the CIN table.
So far, what have you learnt – or how has your work been enhanced – by being a part of the network?
It’s been very interesting to learn more deeply what other organizations are doing and observe somewhat how different individuals and organizations already work closely together and the incredible scope of work that can be accomplished. I’ve also learned in closer detail about the opioid overdose response in the province. The CIN has afforded opportunity to see better some possible alignments with other organizations and through our Innovation Fund project we’ve have had some good capacity building around survey work. These are all important and I’m sure just the beginning of more learning as part of the CIN.
How can (and why should) readers get involved with your agency?
Anyone interested in what is happening in the fast-changing world of hepatitis C – whether treatments, treatment access in BC, our services and work – are invited to come take a closer look and fly along with us as we help shape and be part of BC’s response to hepatitis C in BC. The hepatitis C community is really diverse and interesting and our voice is just beginning to find strength and unity. Come along!
We can be found at pacifichepc.org or email at [email protected]. We’re on Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out our full hep C treatment information website at hepctip.ca and information about our Help4Hep BC Helpline at help4hepbc.ca.
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Simon Goff, Executive Assistant and Collective Impact Coordinator, [email protected]