STONE – Health minister’s low-key visit shows sad state of B.C. health care

MLA, Kamloops-South Thompson

THE BC LIBERALS have long been calling for action to resolve B.C.’s health care crisis, including the ongoing situation at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops. Unfortunately, the ‘action’ announced by Health Minister Adrian Dix this week is nothing but a series of band-aid measures with shaky timelines.

MLA Todd Stone.

Dix came to Kamloops on Monday but tried his level best to avoid media as well as local doctors and nurses. His ‘media availability’ was to be by teleconference only — so why bother coming to Kamloops at all?

If he wanted to hide from reporters, he should have stayed in his home riding in Vancouver. Eventually, and I’m guessing reluctantly, his team allowed two Kamloops reporters into the boardroom.

It makes you wonder why the much-anticipated opening of the new $417 million patient tower wasn’t met with much fanfare by the NDP government.

A closed-door boardroom Q&A instead of a grand opening news conference? It’s further proof the Health Minister is afraid of being confronted about the deteriorating state of health care in Kamloops and area.

This must be why he also apparently refused to sit down with doctors or nurses, especially those in the hardest-hit departments of the ICU and ER. Nurses in particular have been demanding a direct discussion with the minister to talk about the retention plan and what they describe as ‘toxic’ working conditions — but he won’t do it.

Dix was repeatedly questioned by reporters about how the new tower will be staffed, but he and Interior Health CEO Susan Brown would not provide specifics. Both claimed the new facility would be an attractive recruiting tool for workers. But how can anyone have any faith that the new patient care tower will have a full complement of staff, considering the situation as it stands today?

A nurse speaking anonymously to the Vancouver Sun shared that the hospital’s ER had only four nurses out of the expected 12 this past weekend. She also revealed her own department was operating at 60 per cent of baseline staffing levels.

As for some of the other issues at the hospital, the minister did announce three additional operating rooms for RIH, but they won’t be operational until 2023 which doesn’t offer the immediate help that patients and health care workers are seeking now. While the BC Liberals have repeatedly called for a health human resources strategy, the NDP still haven’t come up with one.

They also haven’t come up with any solutions to the family doctor shortage plaguing the province, nor to the frequent emergency room closures in rural communities like Ashcroft and Clearwater. This past weekend, six ERs around the province were temporarily shut down which is completely unacceptable.

There’s also no sign of the repeatedly promised but never-delivered cancer centre for Kamloops, which is still in the concept stage; not funded; and lacking an actual plan to be built and open by October 2024 as the premier committed to in the last election.

These are the reasons why Minister Dix opted for a low-key visit behind closed doors instead of the grand opening celebration that the completion of a large infrastructure project usually warrants.

The announcements he offered this week were thin gruel for the people of Kamloops who, like all British Columbians, are desperate for immediate and effective solutions to the crisis in health care.

Todd Stone was elected MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson in 2013, 2017, and again in 2020. He currently serves as the Official Opposition House Leader as well as the Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery, Trade and Innovation.

About Mel Rothenburger (9504 Articles) 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 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.

2 Comments on STONE – Health minister’s low-key visit shows sad state of B.C. health care

  1. Catriona Elliott // July 22, 2022 at 12:24 PM // Reply

    Please write a follow up article outlining what your proposals are to fix the problems.

  2. John Noakes // July 22, 2022 at 5:41 AM // Reply

    Mr. Stone,
    Both you and also Mr. Milobar seem to be suffering from the same ailment…….PCDS
    (Post Covid Denial Syndrome). Some of the symptoms are a quickness to deny any wrongdoing by yourselves for anything and the heaping of blame on others who provided leadership through a pandemic that is still ongoing.

    My wife was still actively working as a nurse during the first 6 months of the pandemic. She was a different person because of the added stress and hopelessness of the situation. How could one honestly say that a nurse could be brought to tears by hearing people bashing on pots and pans from their dwelling places?
    One of the surgeons in town is my hero; his skills helped give me a second chance at battling Crohn’s. When I heard him giving some thoughts (during the pandemic), I could sense the frustration in his voice.

    Mr. Stone, I and many others were isolated from loved ones when they were at their end of life. You have absolutely no idea what level of guilt that has been left inside me; to be denied the opportunity of being beside my twin brother as he died from cancer. How many other people watched through glass as their parent(s) ebbed away and died in long term care facilities? Where were you and Mr. Milobar then?

    I have provided a link for you and Mr. Milobar to use. If you and Mr. Milobar find a couple of moments in your day when you aren’t dreaming up some way to butcher politicians who sit across the legislature from you, you might want to read something of the bigger picture when it comes to the state of the medical system across Canada.

    PCDS is something new and I’m almost sure that educated folks in the medical system are already looking into it.

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