Upset Kaslo residents are voicing their concerns about an ongoing doctor shortage that’s forced periodic closures to the community’s ER for well over a year.
On Monday morning, members of the frustrated community are planning on holding a protest rally at the Victorian Community Health Care Centre. Organizer Ken Hart says he’s seen declining service since arriving to Kaslo in 1996 and it’s time to stand up before more than just beds are lost. He fears the entire facility will be shut down.
“Interior Health is continuing to take health care away from Kaslo,” says Hart. “We’re all pretty choked because we’re paying a ton of taxes and what are we getting for it…. We live here and we should have what we had which is phone a doctor, get an appointment and get taken care of.”
The protest rally begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 10 a.m. so as not to disrupt operations at the health care centre.
“We plan to make a joyful noise and very peacefully demonstrate ‘IHA, we want our doctors,’” Hart says. “We’re going to do our best.”
The business owner in the community at the north end of Kootenay lake says the people of Kaslo aren’t going to stand by anymore. This is the first time residents have banded together to show opposition publicly.
“It’s time to make a noise,” he says.
Hart says staff at the facility isn’t able to speak out but locals hear their frustrations mirroring their own. Many residents don’t trust the health authority and want more accountability for the way the community hasn’t been properly supported.
“It’s a smoke and mirrors show… They tell us something to make us feel better and then go do something else,” he says.
As the protest is planned, IH has announced two more closures to the facility this week. The ER will be closed overnight Tuesday and Wednesday.
IH wasn’t available to comment on the planned rally but Cheryl Whittleton, who handles community integrated health services for the Kootenay Boundary, previously spoke on the matter of reduced service.
“We understand the frustration the community feels,” she says. “We don’t want to see disruptions in service.”
IH says they understand the problems closures cause and are working toward a solution actively recruiting for permanent and locum physicians.