Website links Nanaimo residents with social services

NANAIMO – Fetch, a website created by the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice, has been picked up across the province.

A one-stop online rolodex for community health resources will soon play matchmaker for Nanaimo residents.

The Nanaimo Division of Family Practice, a non-profit helping to improve health care, has been getting provincewide attention for its website For Everything That’s Community Health or Fetch,  where people can find community health resources like support for medical conditions, crisis intervention and employment assistance. It’s now working on Service Match, an upgrade that will allow people to type in their needs and wants and then have the program match them with available resources.

Before the site went live in 2013, resource lists were in a number of different places and not one was complete, according to Leslie Keenan, executive director of the Nanaimo division, who adds it was developed for patients, as well as doctors and medical office assistants.

It’s free to use, and initially designed like an electronic rolodex, although its features are unique, said Keenan. Each organization has its own card where it can upload and edit things like videos, brochures and referral forms.

Last year the site attracted more than 19,000 visitors and 13 family divisions across B.C. have picked up the template. The division just started a provincial users group to create agreements on enhancements and share costs for the site.

The uptake has been exciting for Keenan, who believes it’s gaining traction because it’s easy to use with little maintenance for divisions.

“When we develop programs, something brand new like Fetch, we go into it with the mindset to develop something that’s spreadable,” said Keenan. “Divisions are funded through Doctors of B.C. which gets funding from the Ministry of Health so it’s public dollars and you want to use those public dollars judiciously in something that’s not a kind of one-shot deal but something that can continue to grow and develop and benefit those beyond our own community.”

Divisions will also be able to use Service Match once it’s complete. It allows people to do searches based on mini-profiles they create.

“The thing that really excites me about it is that it is really innovative,” Keenan said. “It’s something that’s going to enhance the ability of consumers to be able to find the services that they need that are specific to them.”

The beta version is anticipated this spring.