Interior Health has put on hold plans to change emergency department hours at the Kaslo hospital.
Cuts to ED hours were slated to occur on January 6 but IH has postponed this change to April 1 in order to “fully consider a new proposal presented by a group of physicians interested in continuing 24/7 coverage” said a release issued Friday.
The decision to hold off on the change was made after a mix of physicians having experience in the region, and at the site, and others they hope to collaborate with informed Interior Health that they want to explore a fee-for-service rather than contract compensation model.
“Interior Health has remained open to solutions that ensure Kaslo and area residents have good access to high quality primary care and to the emergency services they need,” said Dr. Michael Purdon, Executive Medical Director, Community and Residential Services in a release. “More discussions are needed to see if we have found an answer to the long-standing staffing challenges at the Kaslo health centre, and we felt it was important to hold off on any permanent changes to see if there is an alternative solution.”
The emergency department in Kaslo has been shut down periodically over the past year — 38 times between January 1 and November 1, 2013. Of those times; 27 were due to the lack of physician coverage with closure periods varying from overnight to several days at a time.
As staffing allows, the Kaslo emergency department will be open 24/7 while discussions about a potential new model take place.
“We anticipate discussions over the next three months or so will allow us to see what is possible to best meet the health care needs of the Kaslo area,” said Andrew Neuner, IH Vice President, Community Integrated Health Services. “It is encouraging to have a group of physicians committed to having these discussions with us. This will allow us the time needed to thoroughly examine the options for physician coverage and ensure that we also have the appropriate staffing plan in place.”
Maggie Winters is part of the Kaslo and Area Health Care Working Group which has been asking IH to wait on cuts while the physician’s proposal was considered.
“We’ve been working with Interior Health and trying to convince them it made no sense to shut the ER down at this point in time when we had a real potential for a group that was willing to keep it open,” she said. “We wanted some breathing room for those physicians to try and put this together… The 90 days is going to give that group time to see if this is going to work.”
She said seeing results come from their hard work makes her “extremely happy.”
“I am cautiously optimistic,” she said. “It’s a nice Christmas present for the village. We were happy we were able to help make this happen.”