After a reprieve announced prior to Christmas, Interior Health will now proceed with changes to Kaslo’s Victoria Community Health Centre emergency department hours after all.
This decision to reduce service to Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. comes as a result of notification from the physician group that they are unable to move forward with their proposal to provide 24/7 emergency department coverage, reports Interior Health.
The cuts to 24-7 service were originally slated for January 6 but were changed to April 1 so the group of physicians could explore a fee-for-service rather than a contract compensation model. However, they have been unable to find enough physicians to make the proposal viable.
“Interior Health sincerely appreciates the efforts physicians have made to support emergency services in Kaslo,” said Andrew Neuner, VP Community Integrated Health Services. “Our focus remains building a strong robust primary care centre with ready access to physicians, diagnostic testing and public health nursing services. We will continue to recruit physicians who are committed to providing consistent services that meet the majority of residents’ health-care needs during the busiest hours of the week.”
The community of Kaslo has been rallying for continued ER coverage holding several public gatherings. Both Kaslo’s Mayor Greg Lay and Kaslo’s Chamber of Commerce spoke out against the health authority handling of the physician recruitment problem.
Tyler Dobie is a Kaslo resident who has been vocal for 24-hour emergency service in his community. He calls this news devastating.
“We all had high hopes that the doctors were going to work something out so we could keep our 24/7 services. Now, we’re back to having no permanent doctors here,” he said. “With no evening/weekend ER, this will mean people leaving and further damage to our already struggling local economy.”
Now, with reduced service, Interior Health said they are working in partnership with the BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) to ensure residents have timely access to high level care using skilled paramedics (both on the ground and in the air), and Interior Health’s High Acuity Response Team (HART) based in Trail. This practice, which is in place at other Interior Health sites without 24/7 emergency department coverage, recognizes that it is vital to minimize the time to high-level care.
As staffing allows, the Kaslo emergency department will be open 24/7 until the new hours take effect in April. Periodic closures are still occurring due to limited nursing and/or physician availability.
Interior Health said they will continue to collaborate with the Kaslo and Area D Health Care Select Committee (previously called the Kaslo and Area Health Care Working Group) on ways to enhance health services for the residents of the community.
Dobie still has hope that the community can recruit a team that will give the remote community the service it needs.
“We have a great community here, and will welcome the lucky doctors who sign on to come and work here. This news is disappointing, but it’s not the final word,” he said.