Kaslo village council has officially stated it has no confidence in Interior Health’s senior management.
At their regular council meeting held earlier this week, they passed a formal non-confidence resolution after the health authority recently announced it would end 24-7 emergency room services for Kaslo.
Mayor Greg Lay explained the community spent a year working with IH trying to find solutions a doctor shortage that has forced periodic closures of the Kaslo ER.
“At the end of that year, Interior Health came back to us with nothing,” he said. “No change in ambulance service, no change in paramedics, no change in nurse practitioners, no change in contracts for physicians…”
Efforts included commissioning of the Ross Report in which Dr. John Ross, a Nova Scotia physician and expert on rural health, explored the current state of health care in Kaslo. Among other things, Ross suggested ER services be maintained using remote physician support of a nurse practitioner.
“He is one of Canada’s well-known and respected doctors in the area of rural medicine and his report was really not embraced in the manner in which we expected,” said Lay.
Since the report came out last month, IH proposed the ER at the Victorian Community Health Centre be reduced to the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday with after-hour and weekend coverage provided by Nelson and Trail hospitals.
Lay says the community doesn’t accept this and will continue to look for solutions.
But they plan on going it alone, outside the framework of the health authority.
“The way the hospital is being managed needs to be evaluated,” he said.
The mayor says medical staff at the Victorian Community Health Centre is doing a “really good job” despite working for an organization “that doesn’t understand the rural health care situation” or how to secure doctors with an attractive contract.
“I think that we’re going to get into the doctor recruitment business because we don’t think they’ve done a very good job, quite frankly,” he said.
New Denver and Creston have found ways to recruit doctors keeping their clinics operating, he added.
Lay said mayors in rural outposts like Kaslo are concerned about the vitality of their communities with medical coverage lacking. He sees seniors leaving
“If you are trying to create employment in a community or attract investors, and you tell them you don’t have 24-7 emergency care services, they’re moving to the next town,” he said. “They’re not going to raise their families in an environment where they don’t have that sense of security.”
Lay said seniors are also leaving Kaslo for better medical care.
The citizens of Kaslo have been on a letter writing campaign and Lay says there are over 200 letters supporting 24-7 coverage on their way to the authorities.
“We are not laying down in front of these guys,” he said. “We want to find solutions and that means compromise and that means change.”