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‘Lives are at stake’: TNG calls for independent investigation into Cariboo Memorial Hospital

‘We need more information on what is being done to fix the problems,” said Chief Joe Alphonse
Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake is the focus of a call for action by both TNG and Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG) is adding its voice to the calls for an independent investigation into concerns being raised in Williams Lake regarding Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH).

In a news release issued Tuesday (May 17) Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse spoke critically of the lack of transparency by the B.C. government in dealing with the current situation at CMH, a situation Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson has been raising in the B.C. Legislature recently citing a letter of non-confidence in the administrators overseeing the operating room unit at CMH.

“We need more information on what is being done to fix the problems,” said Alphonse. “While we may not agree with MLA Lorne Doerkson on every issue, we agree that CMH is in a crisis situation and that lives are at stake.”

He added if Doerkson wants to pursue action on the crisis, he must also meet with TNG to discuss systemic racism.

“Our people have had to contend with the dysfunction and systemic racism at CMH for too long. To the point where I have had members in my community stay home and pass away on the couch, rather than seek medical care at CMH,” said Alphonse.

TNG’s release draws attention to the Turpel-Lafond Report: In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care, released in December 2020. Little action has been done to address these problems by government or any other party, according to TNG.

The resignation of long-time surgeon Dr. Dan Brosseuk and a letter submitted to Interior Health containing a motion of non-confidence in administration reportedly signed by most of the operating unit medical staff have led to Doerkson calling for action by the current government during Question Period.

So far, Interior Health has declined additional comment after responding to the initial story on Brosseuk’s resignation, which he said was due to administrative changes impacting patient care.

The letter of non confidence cited serious issues and describes a “toxic work place.”

TNG said the need for change at CMH and accountability in public health and B.C. government is immediate.

Black Press Media has reached out to Interior Health for comment.

More to come

Read more: Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Doerkson calls situation at CMH a crisis, demands government action

Read more: Longtime Williams Lake surgeon resigns over Interior Health admin changes

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