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 email@example.com.