EDITORIAL – Time to give control of Royal Inland back to the community
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
ALMOST AS FRUSTRATING as the staffing crisis at Royal Inland Hospital is the way in which the issue has been politicized. Everybody from opposition MLAs to certain City council members are slamming Interior Health administration, and Health Minister Adrian Dix, over the problem, demanding that it be fixed.
Healthcare is inherently about politics because the system is publicly funded, and that means it’s accountable through the political process.
But if they’re going to wade in demanding solutions, they should at least have some notion of what those solutions are. It’s sad to listen to a member of City council, for example, being indignant about the stresses facing nursing staff but then candidly admit having no suggestions about what needs to be done.
Maybe the problem is that everybody is waiting for the unfortunates currently in charge of the system to fix it when the system is incapable of being fixed. Maybe it’s time to stop tinkering around the edges and do something dramatic.
Maybe it’s time to scrap the entire health authority model that essential centralized healthcare throughout the province. A couple of decades ago, B.C. was carved up into health regions, with Interior Health handed the job of administering 215,000 square kilometres and a population that is now approaching a million people.
This new top-down system was supposed to modernize healthcare in the province. It replaced the old locally based delivery model in which Royal Inland had its own board of directors that set policies based on community needs.
One can’t help but feel a lot of the issue at RIH has to do with a failure to grasp what’s going on in the corridors of the hospital, and that more local control would enable solutions to be found.
Totally revamping the structure of healthcare administration would be a big move, but maybe it’s the only way to find those elusive answers and get us out of this mess.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seeing as it was the NDP in 2001 who fired the local RIH board, of which I was a member, it’s not likely that the current NDP would bring back a local board. Things weren’t perfect at RIH in the four years that I had an inside perspective, but our board lived in the community and we all had a personal interest in the well-being of the hospital and employees whom we counted amongst our neighbours and friends.
The destruction of healthcare goes far beyond RIH right now. Why are health profession colleges threatening their own members who publicly ask legitimate questions that don’t align with the government’s Covid-19 narrative? In healthcare we need robust debate, not intimidation. Why are healthcare professionals and hospital staff being coerced to trade their bodily autonomy for employment? We need evidence-based decision-making, not bullying. Why is the BC government spending millions of our tax dollars to fast-track foreign trained nurses to replace experienced BC nurses who paid their own way but have lost their jobs due to the government’s policy of persecuting workers who are unvaccinated? What happened to “be kind, be calm”? Apparently, it’s now be cruel, be vindictive as we are all expected to bow down to an injection that neither prevents Covid-19 nor halts its transmission.
Why do nearly a million British Columbians not have a family doctor? There must be very little incentive these days to run a family practice. Why is Telus expanding into primary care? I assume there’s a way to profit by bundling the doctor with other services.
I’m not sure what the answer is for RIH, but I’m pretty sure the billion dollar museum isn’t part of the solution. Our obviously crumbling public healthcare system and its dedicated workers do not appear to be the government’s priority. I don’t listen to what our politicians say. I watch what they do. I am heartbroken for all workers who have been cruelly discarded in the name of public health. It is the greatest tragedy of this assault on healthcare and freedom.
You do not revamp a system, then get answers. Reverse the process…ask the questions, get informed answers from all stakeholders, then revise as needed.
Hire back all the healthy workers that were laid off from their employers because they would not be jabbed.
That would be the right thing to do, and it is long overdue.
The reputation of the RIH of being a colossal mess is not going to help in attracting the new staff it desperately needs. As a first step in fixing the problem, I would replace the RIH board completely. Then I would create an expert panel of doctors and nurses who would make recommendations to the new board. To attract new staff I would offer jobs with good salaries and favourable terms (eg. limited night/weekend shifts, 1 month holiday). In the case of new doctors, I would hire people with the specific task of helping them set up a practice. I would pay for all moving expenses for new staff, and any costs incurred of setting up in a new place. I would put in place rules that prohibit staff from working overtime and also limit the number patients per staff member. I would create a specific hospital committee chaired by person whose only job is to oversee working conditions and staff complaints. The list goes on.