Princeton is one of the communities facing wildfires across the province. Photos courtesy of Debbie Lyon

Interior Health issues wildfire statement

State of emergency called while fires rage across the province

Hundreds of wildfires have started across the province since Friday, forcing evacuations in some cities, and Interior Health has mobilized to help wherever it can according to CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

“Together, we are carefully considering the best options for our patients and staff who are located where significant wildfire activity is ongoing,” he wrote in a July 8 press release.

“Since Friday, we have evacuated residential and assisted living sites in Ashcroft, all patients in 100 Mile District General Hospital, and we are continuing to relocate our residential care and assisted living residents in 100 Mile to other communities. The emergency department at 100 Mile remains open. The Ashcroft hospital is closed.”

The health authority is also taking steps to evacuate patients from Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake as a precaution.

“Our teams have worked through the night ensuring each person goes to the facility that best suits his or her individual needs. We are also staying in close contact with First Nations leaders to see what health supports are needed for First Nations communities hard hit by the wildfires.”

To ensure families can stay in contact, a new central phone line has been set up at 1-877-442-2001. Individuals can also make contact by email at patient.concerns@interiorhealth.ca.

We understand that families may not know where their loved one has been relocated, which is why we have set up a central phone line through our Patient Care Quality Office where these answers will be provided.

“I want to reassure the public and families of residents and patients that the majority of individuals in our care from both 100 Mile and Ashcroft are all safely in their new temporary accommodations. We will keep you updated on the progress of the evacuations in Williams Lake,” Mazurkewich said.

“Our employees and physicians on the ground at all affected sites have performed their duties with remarkable calm, even those facing personal losses to the fires. Their commitment to patients is truly heroic.”

According to him, this situation is unprecedented.

“This is one of the gravest situations Interior Health has faced in terms of such widespread natural disaster impacting our services. We are extremely fortunate to have so many dedicated, calm and clear thinking people at all levels within Interior Health and within the many partner agencies working with us.”

 

Chris Mazurkewich is the CEO of Interior Health. Submitted photo