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.