Interior Health CEO Chris Mazurkewich says there are no plans to wipe out the Ashcroft Hospital.

Interior Health CEO Chris Mazurkewich says there are no plans to wipe out the Ashcroft Hospital.

New Interior Health CEO looks at local healthcare

President and CEO Chris Mazurkewich acknowledges that a new model for rural healthcare must be found.

Chris Mazurkewich, who was appointed President and CEO of Interior Health in October 2015, was in Ashcroft last week with a team of IH officials. They met with members of local Councils, representatives of the Wellness and Health Action Coalition and the Ashcroft and District Health Care Auxiliary, and other stakeholders to discuss the state of healthcare in this region, and what the future looks like. Mazurkewich was also able to sit down to a one-on-one interview, where he discussed the challenges local healthcare is facing.

Mazurkewich is no stranger to Interior Health, having been the Chief Operating Officer, Strategic and Corporate Services, for IH from 2002 to 2009. Prior to returning to IH last year he spent four years with Alberta Health services.

The biggest challenge he sees for rural healthcare is the recruitment and retention of a sufficient number of physicians who are trained and willing to do emergency work. However, he notes that a team approach is needed, with nursing, lab, and diagnostic imaging personnel needed to support physicians.

“Most doctors now want a work/life balance,” he says. “Some want the full scope of a practice, which includes emergency and hospital work; that attracts a certain type of physician. But other community doctors and nurses say ‘No’; they want more of a clinical practice. And some communities are fine with that.”

Nurse practitioners are, he says, a possible solution in some places. “They can do a lot of primary care, but there are certain emergencies they can’t do.” He adds that as things stand now, a community that gains a nurse practitioner usually does so at the expense of somewhere else. However, he notes that IH has filled 300 new nursing positions in the last 90 days.

What it comes down to finding out from a community what it needs. “The old model isn’t sustainable. We need to talk with rural communities about what is a sustainable healthcare model, and get input to see what that looks like. What do you think you need?”

When asked about the future of the Ashcroft hospital he says that IH has “no plans” to wipe out the facility. He adds, however, that people need to understand what emergency is. “Most industrialized countries have far fewer emergency room visits than we do. People are going to emergency because they don’t have a personal physician, but polls show that people prefer services in a non-hospital setting.

“We have to accept that there are other ways of providing care. People say they want a hospital, but when questioned they say what they really want is support and care. We’re trying to provide that. There’s a balance between needing and getting care; the trick is to find the right balance.”

People need to take more preventive measures to stay healthy, he says, to avoid needing hospital care, and points to his 86-year-old mother as an example. “She’s a diabetic, but looks after herself and has the support and care she needs. If she wasn’t taking and using these preventive measures she would need more hospital care. If you know your health, you can take preventive measures and stay healthy.

“We’re working with communities to create health charters. We know that if you have exercise facilities like biking and walking paths, people are healthier.”

He also acknowledges that we need to be smarter about how we support new physicians coming into rural communities, which means everything from helping them assimilate into a possibly new culture to determining whether they want to manage their own clinic, as is the case in Ashcroft. “Some people like to run a business, and some don’t,” he says. “For those who don’t, we need to change the model.”

While he notes that there can’t be a unique healthcare model for every community within IH, Mazurkewich says that there are different models that can be looked at, to see which works best. “There are good examples out there, and communities need to share, to see which one works for them.

“We’re vested in Ashcroft, and want to work with the community. We need to recruit and train the appropriate professionals, and listen to what people tell us and say they want.”

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Most Read