In a letter written to Interior Health’s CEO, Kaslo’s mayor pulls no punches in addressing his community’s impending loss of 24/7 emergency department.
“Your announcement of the permanent curtailment of the Emergency Department’s days and hours… is hugely disappointing and confirms that your organization has been working toward a predetermined outcome for this community for well over a year,” writes Mayor Greg Lay to CEO Robert Halpenny.
“While some of the IHA’s commitments to improved primary care may offer a shard of light at the end of very long, dark tunnel, they fall short of representing any competent strategic plan for the future of healthcare in Kaslo and the surrounding area.”
Interior Health sent a delegation to last week’s village council meeting to inform the community that the ER hours would be cut to 9 to 5 Monday to Friday starting January 6.
Lay suggests that making the announcement before council was “not the right place to break news of this nature to the community at large,” he says.
About 200 people gathered outside the chambers to protest IH’s direction and their mayor suggests “a full public community meeting in Kaslo, hosted by the IHA, is long overdue.”
Lay would like to see the health authority invest in mending its relationship with Kaslovians and takes considerable offense to the delegation’s suggestion that citizens are “scaring away potential new physicians” by voicing their frustrations publicly.
He calls it a “woeful approach to fence-mending.”
Lay would like to see the Rural Coordination Centre of British Columbia called in as they have been in other rural communities facing the same challenges.
He asks that the IH partner financially should the community take on physician recruitment tasks and suggests that any financial savings from ER cuts be transparent so that the people of Kaslo don’t feel victim of a “cost-cutting exercise.”
Lay is frustrated that the decision made in his community is based on an urban formula. Low use of an ER doesn’t mean it isn’t a necessary service.
“By this logic, rural communities must maintain high levels of illness and trauma year-on -year to justify the provision of emergency medical and paramedical services,” he says.
Lay says his community wishes to work with IH to find an alternative long-term solution to their challenges, “but cannot disguise our disappointment and justified outrage at the way our community has been treated thus far in this process.”