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FORSETH – How does cutting health services equate to better patient care?

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.

About Mel Rothenburger (9118 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 FORSETH – How does cutting health services equate to better patient care?

  1. Ian MacKenzie // January 22, 2022 at 6:54 AM // Reply

    couldn’t agree more!

  2. “How does … ‘closing inpatient services’ … ‘reducing hours’ … ‘closing’ health clinics … and ‘rescheduling’ surgeries possibly equate to strengthening patient care?”

    easy.

    What you dont mention, but health officials have talked about, is that the personnel involved are being re-routed and moved to support the system where it is needed.

    In 2020 they learned just what happens if you slam hospitals and ICU’s with an endless flow of people due to a pandemic. We all saw nurses etc back then in shell shock, severely over worked, blistered noses, hands and foreheads from PPE, suffering from PTSD. The system wasnt designed for the hit it took, and the system did not know how to deal with it.

    They learned that to redirect external supports and personnel in, when numbers sharply escalate just to get over the big bumps (like again now), means that the entire system, and all staff, can weather the onslaught. The lesson was to have the system be more fluid to react to changes as needed. Is that not what we all want?

    This kind of change didnt happen in March 2020, and all heck broke loose. Now they know better, but who is still behind the 8ball on this info are a few mayors, and a media person or two.

    You also didnt mention at all that these changes are very temporary, and are expected to only be in place for about a month. Thats a very important detail.

    Sure, theres a case for ‘more doctors and nurses’, but thats not new. And maybe a bit of empathy for mayors etc not being pre-notified of the change … but just how big does the health department rollodex callout need to be? Milobar called this mayor … thats his job, he is the government contact for his riding and region … thats the way it works.

    • Alan Forseth // January 23, 2022 at 9:52 AM // Reply

      I didn’t state these measures would be temporary (however long that might be) as I believed most individuals knew that

      You seem to believe these measures are providing better service, I challenge you to find anyone in small-town rural BC who would agree.

  3. I fully agree that health care needs to be strengthen. There are large problems that need confronting and two of them come to mind without effort. One) is the huge sense of entitlement from all involved and two) the huge costs we must confront. How do you think we can go about them AF?

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