Emergency room closure labeled ‘slimy’ by critics

This is a hard letter to write, because most of us, including myself, would like to see government as on our side.

This is a hard letter to write, because most of us, including myself, would like to see government as on our side, especially where it comes to health matters.

Over the past few months it has become clear that the IHA has carried out a deliberate and long term plan to deprive Kaslo of not only its doctors and emergency services, but most likely the final goal for the IHA will be the elimination of our hospital altogether.

Two weeks before the meeting on November 12, called by the IHA, our family received a letter from the Ministry of Health saying that by mutual agreement Kaslo and the IHA have decided that it would be in the best interests of Kaslo to have a robust primary healthcare centre from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

This was a lie. There was no agreement from Kaslo on that, but that letter (which was sent by the Ministry to many people in the area) exposed the IHA’s intentions such that they felt it necessary to call a meeting in November canceling our ER services.

It’s not the IHA that is totally at fault in this — they are implementing policies set by the Liberal government, which seem to be to reduce the costs associated with healthcare, and especially to reduce costs in rural areas.

After the IHA told us (the Kaslo Council, and those outside) that the ER was finished, they reduced RN’s from over six full time positions to just two, and they scheduled the shifts to be either four hours or eight hours. Most of our RN’s live out of town; these shifts would make it impossible for them, especially in the winter.

This was done with malice aforethought: the doctors were eliminated through contracts that few doctors would sign; the nurses will be eliminated through hours that few nurses would sign up for.

So instead of trying to see how they can provide service to outlying areas, the IHA has devoted much time and money to seeing how they can eliminate services in ways that they can justify.

This is about as slimy as it can get. Kaslo and Area D contribute well over a million dollars a year in MSP premiums, plus federal income taxes for healthcare. We are being systematically robbed, and we (all of us) need to push back.

They estimate that they will save $250,000 a year on nurses, and another $100,000 a year on doctors on-call fees, here in Kaslo. Let’s contrast that to the $700,000 a year they pay their top administrators.

We need to figure out some way to hold the BC Government accountable to the Canada Health Act.

It is inevitable that in the next year there will be people dying who would have been saved if they had been closer to a hospital than a two or three hour drive.

In the 1930s if you got hurt in Johnsons Landing, you would need to row your boat to Kaslo to get to a doctor. But at least there was a hospital and a doctor there at that time. Now we’re looking at going to Nelson for emergency care, a two hour drive from JL. That is unacceptable.

Harvey Armstrong

Johnsons Landing