LETTER: Health issue in ‘dire need’ of solutions

Two stories under different headlines, but tied together nicely to show Nelson has an issue.

Friday’s Nelson Star front page had me shaking my head in disbelief. Two stories under different headlines, but tied together nicely to show Nelson has an issue that’s in dire need of solutions and Interior Health burying its head in the sand.

The unfortunate story about a mental health worker being allegedly assaulted outside the courthouse shows the terrible position health care workers can be put in as they try to make a difference. These workers deal daily with those suffering from an unfortunate disease. It certainly can’t be easy, even on the best days.

The other front page story was about the proposal for a mental health car being nixed by Interior Health. The proposal is piloted by Nelson Police Department chief Wayne Holland, a man who has spent decades on the streets of  one of the most challenging cities in North America. Vancouver is home to horrible mental health issues and for many years our chief witnessed positive solutions that make the situation at least a little bit better.

The dedicated mental health car is one of those positive steps towards making a difference.

Holland could not hide his feelings on the decision: “It’s very disappointing to have one key stakeholder stand in the way of us going ahead with this.” He should be disappointed.

In the 20 years I’ve spent in this community, the change on our streets when it comes to those suffering from mental illness has increased noticeably. Nelson is a great place to be. The same things that attract those fortunate to have good health are the same things that attract those who suffer from mental illness.

It’s a problem and some of those closest to that problem are the police. They deal with it every day. This isn’t some sort of product of chief Holland’s imagination.

“There’s always more that could be done for any population, but it always boils down to resources,” states IH’s Cheryl Whittleton. “We need to ensure we’re using our resources wisely.”

All it would take would be a weekend hanging around the downtown police station for Interior Health decision makers to get a better sketch of what goes on in Nelson on a typical night. It would seem much more wise after the weekend was over.

I completely understand provincial health costs are through the roof and running the system becomes trickier every day with increasing demands. But once in a while there’s an idea that just makes so much sense that it’s worth taking the chance and spending the resources. It’s clear Interior Health needs to just fess up and admit they are wrong on this decision.

Bob Hall

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