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EDITORIAL – Trust, communications must be restored at Royal Inland

(Image: CFCJ-TV)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THINGS ARE SO BAD at Royal Inland Hospital that staff members — while praising each other for their team work — characterize the work environment as “toxic.”

Some even call it “horrible.” And COVID is only part of the stress.

Staffing shortages are a major factor, the other half being a failure to communicate. City council is complaining about it. The media are complaining about it. Staff are complaining about it.

Several council members including Mayor Ken Christian have come out with candid comments on what they think about Interior Health’s communications — or lack thereof — when it comes to what’s going on at the hospital.

Coun. Mike O’Reilly calls it “an embarrassment.” City council will call Interior Health CEO Susan Brown on the carpet — sorry, I mean invite her to a meeting — for some candid discussion.

Staff disaffection was highlighted quite some time ago over a lack of parking for nurses and resulting safety concerns. But while the union spoke up for them, it was clear that staff were afraid to be identified for fear of retribution from administration.

Whether or not those concerns were justified, they were there.

While complaints have been going on for many months, concern reached a new high in September when a 70-year-old woman died in the ER waiting room. Media inquiries asking for details were greeted with e-mails declining comment on what went wrong.

E-mails are typically the way inquiries are answered by government institutions these days — it’s about controlling the message.

When people don’t get adequate answers, they draw their own conclusions and that only makes things worse.

So what are Interior Health brass doing about it? Effort is being made to hire more staff but it’s a big challenge given the circumstances. Administration offers assurances that it’s encouraging staff members to come forward with their concerns.

But, until trust is restored and communication greatly improved, Royal Inland will continue to be an unhappy place.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (8573 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Trust, communications must be restored at Royal Inland

  1. My son has been a patient at RIH many times over the years due to a chronic illness. As years progressed things started falling apart. The final straw was the gov’t appointing a “health Authority” to manage our health care. The “Authority” took responsibility away from the staff, they were no longer able to use the skills to think on their own. They had to follow protocols and were told not to see the patient as a patient but as a number. On one floor the new manager single handedly turned the staff into robots. They did their job but that was all they were allowed to do. Taking interest in the patients they saw several times a week, was gone. We have educated and skilled staff, let them do their jobs and stop burying them in bureaucracy. All I hear from the older staff is how much they are looking forward to retirement. We need their skills to teach newer staff. I constantly hear the complaint that for every floor staff hired there are many more administrators hired. What is the proportion of administration, to patients? A few years ago VGH took the unprecedented step of reducing administration. The change in moral was amazing.

  2. Leanne Knowles // November 22, 2021 at 9:22 AM // Reply

    What will happen when the new addition is completed? Will there be enough staff then?

  3. “As for replying or not replying or addressing issues raised, Councillor Mike and Mayor Ken have some experience in that regard.” You have nailed it John. A case in point of the pot calling the kettle black?

  4. I don’t know if Councillor O’Reilly has had the pleasure of being “down and out”, under 120 pounds body weight and enduring surgeries to save his life due to Crohn’s. From experience, I was pretty grateful for RIH being there. Maybe it’s a bit different when being “called onto the carpet” means you are well enough to finally go home.

    Mayor Ken should have an understanding of RIH unless his hip replacement was done elsewhere.

    My spouse never spoke about work because of patient confidentiality primarily. There were days, afternoons, early mornings and late nights spent there and she often wore the lumps and bumps of what it meant to be a nurse.

    I guess Councillor Mike understands these girls (mostly but I did have male nurses and male physicians) clean up puke, get sworn at, pinched, hit and take verbal abuse at all hours of the day and night? Imagine going to work all night and doing vital signs for people lying helpless in a bed; patients depending upon ordinary people who have warm blood in their bodies just like everybody else.

    A lot of people who have gone through the wringer and live to appreciate life for another day can often cut medical people a bit of slack. Following my surgeries, when I was trudging along doing laps around the nursing station holding onto the rail with one hand and the IV pole with the other, I promised that I would some day come back and beat all of them walking. I did…… ask the nurses who worked there and took care of me in the fall of 2009.

    As for replying or not replying or addressing issues raised, Councillor Mike and Mayor Ken have some experience in that regard.

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