HEALTHCARE IN RURAL and small-town B.C. is coming apart at the seams, and the NDP government of Premier John Horgan, and in particular Health Minister Adrian Dix, are letting it happen.
We’ve become a third world country as we ration, reduce, and remove health services — ESPECIALLY outside of the larger metro areas of our province. Here’s a perfect example, given news from the Interior Health Authority just two days ago (Jan. 18):
Interior Health is announcing temporary service adjustments to strengthen patient care due to Omicron-related COVID-19 staffing challenges …
The temporary service changes include:
- Closing inpatient services in Clearwater, Invermere, and Lillooet to stabilize emergency departments in those communities;
- Reducing overnight hours at the Ashcroft Community Health Centre and the Slocan Community Health Centre in New Denver to stabilize daytime services in those communities;
- Closing the Barriere and District Health Centre to redeploy staff to nearby emergency departments;
- Temporarily rescheduling all non-urgent surgeries; temporarily reducing services across IH to some outpatient services; some primary care services, adult day programs and some non-urgent home health services
I’m sure I’m not the only one questioning how this makes ANY sense at all.
How does … ‘closing inpatient services’ … ‘reducing hours’ … ‘closing’ health clinics … and ‘rescheduling’ surgeries possibly equate to strengthening patient care?
Not even notifying community leaders of these drastic measures being taken, also seems to be A-Okay with senior management within the Interior Health Authority – Mayor Ward Stamer of Barriere, however, was not impressed. One day after IHA quietly announced this news (Jan. 19), CBC Kelowna quoted him as saying the closure of his community’s health clinic was:
“Wrong” and “totally irresponsible.” He then went on to say he was completely taken by surprise, and had only found out through Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly exacerbated the situation, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians were already unable to even find a doctor to serve them.
Further, hospitals, especially in rural, northern, and small-town B.C. were already facing shortages of doctors and nurses throughout the province — a situation which is now becoming a critical.
The bottom line is that B.C.’s provincial government has to stop putting band-aids on the situation and ensure that we are turning out enough doctors and nurses to meet our needs — and an immediate solution needs to be found to have foreign trained medical people licensed to practice here.
One thing, though, which we need to stop doing, is robbing other provinces and regions of our country of their medical practitioners and thereby robbing others of the care they need. The same goes to head-hunting other countries and robbing them of the same thing.
It’s a disgusting and reprehensible action and it needs to stop — there is NO reason why we should not be able to meet our own needs to the brightest young people our province has to offer!
It’s long past time to seriously plan for our needs because as the old saying goes, “A goal without a plan, is just a wish.”
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident. For moe than 30 years he has been active in a number of capacities, in local, provincial and federal politics, including running as a candidate for the BC Reform Party in the 1996 provincial election. He is currently working as a volunteer on the Ellis Ross BC Liberal leadership campaign.