The back-to-back front page headlines in consecutive Nelson Star editions tell the story about the delicate balance of health care in rural BC.
Interior Health tells us that the situation of cutting hours at the Victorian Community Health Centre in Kaslo is a last resort. Not enough funding and not enough doctors to provide 24/7 coverage. This isn’t a case of trimming service to save a buck, according to Interior Health, it’s about finding the people to staff the small ER.
In this story you can read about the BC Nurses’ Union reaction to the cuts. Local rep Tina Coletti says there are solutions, but Interior Health doesn’t want to listen.
Standing loudly in the fray is Kaslo mayor Greg Lay who is rallying the community to stand up for the services. The village council has vowed to find ways to restore the 24/7 coverage so that residents of the small community can feel safe when they go to bed at night.
If the new ER at Kootenay Lake Hospital is an example of a health care success story, those fighting to restore the Kaslo service should use it as a beacon.
Nelson’s sliver of modern age of health care arrived via patience and dialogue. When the Liberals first hacked services at Kootenay Lake Hospital, zealous advocates and unions saw red. There were vigils, die-ins and plenty of shouting. Interior Health ignored it all. Rage rarely wins the day.
What the bureaucrats listen to is a balanced approach and compromise. Interior Health is far from a compassionate organization, but those who make decisions are not totally unreasonable.
Kaslo residents are right to be upset and they should voice their concerns. The nurses’ union is proposing some reasonable alternatives. What is needed now is respectful dialogue and a solution-based approach.