EDITORIAL – Child’s death highlights urban-rural divide in health care

(Image: CFJC)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

TWO UNPLEASANT SIDE EFFECTS of the sad state of our healthcare system have been highlighted in tragic fashion.

A story came out yesterday about an eight-month-old Barriere child who suffered a cardiac arrest. An ambulance was called but the child died.

The ambulance had to travel from Kamloops because all available ambulances were busy there, though it’s not known whether the child would have survived had an ambulance arrived sooner.

Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer, always forthright, is quoted by media as saying this: “We need our ambulance service to be there to protect the people when we need it and not to steal our resources so that they can go to a larger centre.”

In other words, an ambulance should have remained in Barriere instead of filling the shortage in Kamloops. Of course, had a similar situation occurred in Kamloops, residents there would be demanding to know why an ambulance was stationed in Barriere when it could have been brought to Kamloops.

It would be a logical question, since Barriere has a population of less than 2,000 compared to Kamloops with almost 98,000. The chances of emergencies in the city are statistically greater than in a rural town.

But Stamer’s comment reflects two worries all over the province — the urban-rural divide in health care and the reality that communities must now compete for medical services. It’s the same for doctors as for ambulances as towns and cities desperately try to attract healthcare professionals.

The basic message from communities when it comes to recruiting medical staff is, ‘Ignore those other places and come here because we can offer you a better deal.’

The Barriere mayor was obviously not wishing Kamloops any ill will but when tragedies such as the one in his community happen, nobody can blame him for being frustrated.

The point is this: everyone should be entitled to prompt medical service when they need it, no matter where they live.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9657 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 EDITORIAL – Child’s death highlights urban-rural divide in health care

  1. Super tragic and my heart goes out to the parents and family of the baby. However given the vastness of the territory and the scattered population a better position to be in would be to increase basic medical training at the local level. Should an emergency occur the response would then be immediate. Otherwise a guarantee to provide for health services on a whim will probably never occur regardless of who is forming government.

    • OMG! OFA Level 3 as a mandate to basic schooling! Are you out of your mind: this would empower children to help others!!!

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