Process to get hospital grant under way

Ashcroft Mayor says wheels are rolling to access Rural Emergency Enhancement Fund.

Open Letter to the Citizens of Ashcroft and Area:

Re: Health Care in British Columbia

It has been a while since I provided an update to all of you regarding health care in Ashcroft and the services that we are able to provide. With the recent publicity surrounding the Rural Emergency Enhancement Fund or REEF, this seems like a good opportunity.

As most of you are no doubt aware, the Province has initiated a new program, REEF, which provides up to $200,000 to develop an enhanced emergency department program. The funds can be used for a variety of things from paying for locums, paying a premium for weekend and statutory coverage or even if special equipment is required. The program’s ultimate goal is to ensure consistent, sustainable coverage in an emergency room.

Emergency Room physicians are asked to submit proposals, with the assistance and support of Interior Health Medical Affairs staff and their Community Integrated Health Services Administrator. I am able to confirm that our local physicians have met with Interior Health and this process is underway.

The local council has no role to play in this function but is available to discuss the program with the physicians and offer moral support. It is not a Mayor and Council’s position to demand that the local physicians devote more of their time to after-hour coverage.

It is important to note that our Emergency Room is covered for the most part by our own two physicians and they receive relief from locums who come in from time to time. Our physicians are loyal, dedicated people who have devoted their lives to assisting us and ensuring our community is provided the best health care possible. Money is not the answer to the reduced hours in our Emergency Room. Available manpower is. Physicians who are overworked become burned out and in the long run are not able to be there for all of us.

The Emergency Room is an asset that we would all like to maintain. However we must also consider that, on more than one occasion, we have hosted physicians and their families and although they have been very impressed with the community, for lifestyle reasons have chosen to relocate to a community where they were not required to work after hours. The culture has changed and we all have to accept that doctors, peace officers and others are often not willing to devote their entire lives to service their communities.

Council continues to liaison with Interior Health and the local physicians to ensure that we are receiving the best service possible. We have just been advised that there will be a Family Residency Site established in Kamloops and we have already been in touch with the doctor who will be leading this program about the potential to develop a partnership that would see our physicians taking rotations at RIH. Perhaps this partnership could be expanded to include other medical professionals who may feel that they do not use their specialized training often enough to keep their skills sharp and feel 100 per cent competent in their abilities. We have also met with our local

BC Ambulance Unit Chief who has advised that they have skills and abilities that may be able to be incorporated into our medical site.

It is important for all of you to understand that your elected officials have not sat back and taken health care for granted. We have continued to meet with various parties of the medical profession and have offered our assistance to implement programs that may be a little “out of the box”.

We all take this issue seriously and have done all that we can do regarding our physicians and Emergency Room. We wish to acknowledge that our local physicians are doing all that they can for our community – they continue to support us and provide many, many hours of their lives to ensure that we have excellent health care options. The next time that you are in our local clinic please take a moment to thank them for their dedication and contribution to our community and our overall health.

I hope that this has provided some explanation regarding the REEF funding as well as what we have done to ensure that health care continues in Ashcroft.

Andy Anderson,