Reduction in Ashcroft ER hours proposed

IHA reps propose re-listing open hours as they are right now in order to access REEF grant.

Interior Health representatives Jennifer Thur and Bryan Redford met with Ashcroft Council on May 28 to talk about issues relating to the Ashcroft hospital, including the Rural Emergency Enhancement Fund (REEF), an provincial government program which provides up to $200,000 annually for rural hospitals.

Many people in Ashcroft and Cache Creek were upset recently when it was discovered that the local hospital was one of the very few that had not received REEF Funds.

“The issue is around posted hours,” said Community Director Bryan Redford. “That is really THE issue – what are the posted hours as it relates to this process (of applying for the grant).”

REEF is a quarterly grant that can be used by physicians to attract locums, update ER equipment, etc., but the Emergency Room must remain open during its posted hours. Ashcroft ER’s posted hours are 24 hours, seven days a week.

There is no grant for ERs with closures, said Thur, Area Manager for Health Services.

The grant, she said, would be extremely helpful in getting more locums, because the two physicians can’t cover 24/7 by themselves.

“We’re trying now to figure out what those posted hours will look like,” said Thur.

“Tuesday, Thursday and every other weekend seems to be our pattern,” she said, “but we’ll continue to work with the doctors to have it open more often.”

“I need to hear that if hours change, it won’t affect staffing or funding,” said Coun. Jackie Tegart.

Redford said that it would not.

He added that the BC College of Physicians was a political issue that Council could address, especially the restrictions they put on international doctors – even Canadian doctors not from BC – looking for work here. Countries from whom they’ve accepted doctors in the past are working harder to keep them from leaving.