Kaslo hospital to keep 24/7 coverage beyond January
Round-the-clock emergency room coverage at Victorian Community Health Centre in Kaslo will continue beyond the end of the month.
“Interior Health intends to continue working with the community and health care providers to develop a model that provides access to 24/7 emergency care coverage for residents in Kaslo,” the health authority said Monday in a news release.
However, it added there are still challenges and any model will have to be sustainable for doctors and nurses. “Further discussions are needed to come up with a permanent service model that will work for Interior Health, health care providers and the community,” the statement said.
The emergency room was slated to be reduced to weekday business hours as of November, due to burnout by physicians who were tired of constantly being on call. But following an outcry, the health authority granted a reprieve until the end of January while talks continued with the community.
In an interview, Dr. Allan Stewart, Interior Health’s senior medical director for community services, said those discussions have gone well and they’re working on a long-term plan to let Kaslo keep its emergency room hours — although he felt it was premature to name specifics.
“We’re working on a couple of things. It’s a bit early to say because I don’t want to create expectations we may not be able to match,” he said.
A community working group, led by Maggie Winters, has met several times with Interior Health administrators. Stewart said physicians who raised concerns about workload feel more comfortable knowing the process is underway, even if it lacks a precise end date.
“I also suspect the volume of after-hours visits has diminished a bit because of public awareness of the situation,” he said.
Kaslo Mayor Greg Lay was pleased with the news and said he was always cautiously optimistic a solution could be found.
“We were able to work through a process and identify the issues and potential solutions. In the case of ER services that’s worked out. There’s more work to do in the relationship between the ambulance service and long-term care and how the public health nurse system works.”
Lay said he expects the village will now be more involved with physician recruitment and hopes new technology will let doctors respond to emergency room situations more effectively.
“However, the important thing for me is I can tell a young family moving to Kaslo — if we’re fortunate to create some employment — there is 24/7 emergency room coverage.”
Stewart and Lay both said the outcome of the Kaslo talks could apply to other communities with small emergency departments.