Nelson council is following the City of Trail’s lead by declining to take part in a Castlegar-funded initiative to develop a strategic plan on acute care — for fear such a plan would endorse a central hospital model for all acute care and jeopardize surgical services offered at Kootenay Lake Hospital.
Castlegar recently hired consultant Jim Gustafson to solicit input from the 30 local governments in the Kootenay Boundary Health Region regarding future Interior Health investments in acute care planning and potential future capital investments within the region.
A questionnaire distributed by Gustafson was discussed at a recent Nelson city council meeting, where Mayor John Dooley was quick to point out that Castlegar’s strategic planning initiative isn’t endorsed by Interior Health nor the West Kootenay Boundary Hospital Board.
He suggested responding, as the City of Trail did, with a letter outlining support for the status quo of maintaining acute care services at both the Nelson and Trail hospitals.
“We support the model that Interior Health has offered up to refurbish the existing facilities,” Dooley said. “The last thing we’d want is a loss of our [hospital] site in Nelson.”
The mayor, who represents Nelson on the hospital board, is worried Castlegar’s effort will disrupt the cohesion of the hospital board that took years to achieve.
“In my opinion, this particular type of initiative plays right into the hands of Interior Health. They’ve leveraged the fracture in the West Kootenay Boundary area for many, many years,” he said.
In a report to council, Gustafson wrote that the mission of the strategic planning process is to “advance discussion on acute care services and infrastructure amongst local governments” and “will not determine what or where investments are necessary.”
Gustafson plans to finalize a strategic plan by September, then present it to the hospital board, Interior Health and the province.
The current two-site hospital model for acute care allows some daycare surgeries to be performed at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, while more involved procedures that require overnight or longer term care are performed only at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail.
Below is the full report Gustafson prepared to explain to acute care planning initiative: