Interior Health got an earful this week from the Thompson Regional Hospital District board of directors about the state of healthcare in the region.
The hospital district board includes members of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board and some directors fro neighbouring districts.
Diane Shendruk, the vice president of clinical operations for Interior Health North, and other IH representatives provided the board with an update on steps being taken to fix the situation.
She acknowledged the staffing problems at Royal Inland Hospital and that a 30-60-90-day action plan has been created to deal with the situation. Included are improvements to scheduling, an urgent response team on staffing, and better communications.
She said the action plan is “very tight” but urgently needed, also noting that the hospital was at 115 per cent capacity on that particular day.
Directors peppered Shendruk with concerns not just about RIH but about rural healthcare, pointing out cancelled surgeries and issues with staff retention, centralized staffing, closures and other issues.
Director Al Raine, the mayor of Sun Peaks, told of a situation in which a patient waited for hours on an appointment for surgery only to be told it was cancelled. He urged IH to ensure proper notice is given in such situations.
Ashcroft Mayor Barb Roden passionately decried the erosion of services in rural areas, characterizing it as “death by a thousand cuts.”
Board chair Ken Christian of Kamloops said a shortage of scrubs — a problem Shendruk said has been addressed “very quickly” at RIH — isn’t on the list of concerns local politicians are hearing about. He said things like nursing shortages, staff burnout and ER wait times are major problems.
“We are hearing things like issues related to ER delays, issues related to ER closures, we are hearing issues about diversion and bypass,” he added.
Shendruk told the board there are several reason for staffing shortages, such as COVID, retirements and illnesses. She is now a Kamloops resident and said she’ll be spending most of her time at RIH working on concerns.
— Mel Rothenburger, Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD