Regain Local Control over Health Care

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Regain Local Control over Health Care

As time has gone by, more and more services, including many specialists are being centralized in larger centres. This is very apparent to the population of the Kootenay Boundary area. The hospitals in the West Kootenays have been downgraded over time. For example, some emergency rooms are only open during daytime hours. Some hospitals such as Castlegar or New Denver do provide emergency services during daytime hours, but patients may be transferred to KBRH when further care is required. Unfortunately, even on transfer to KBRH, many issues can not be addressed and patients are then moved on to a hospital in a larger centre.

The centralization is also affecting access to specialists – many people are forced to travel to Kelowna or Vancouver to receive many of the services previously available in the local area.

Prior to the inception of the Health Authority concept, Hospital boards consisted of local volunteers. These volunteers had a vested interest in ensuring health care in their community was good. They were responsible to listen to and address staff concerns and lobby the provincial government for funding. Since the inception of the Health Authority concept around the year 2000, the people in non-urban communities such as ours, do not have input or a voice into health care decisions. The Hospital boards are now staffed by politicians and ONLY make capital cost recommendations. As always, our population provides enormous financial support to KBRH.

The Society for the Protection and Care of Seniors (SPCS) has been finding a lack in health care services since the early 2000’s. This lack of services actually led to the formation of our society. We are based in Trail, BC and our local hospital is the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).

In the late 80's, a deciding factor for a specialist in starting his practice in Trail was that KBRH had almost 250 beds! Now, KBRH boasts ONLY 75 available hospital beds! Shockingly, many of the beds have been turned into offices for IH personnel. Doctors and specialists are declining, leaving those still here overbooked, overworked and without relief. In 2002, a Lost Services report was documented and none of those issues have been addressed. This report is available on our website (spcstrail.weebly.com).

This is the Regional Hospital for Kootenay Boundary - a huge area. The unique geography makes travel difficult for almost half the year. It creates undue hardship - physically, emotionally and financially for families forced to travel with their vulnerable youth and elderly family members.

It does not work for people living in urban centres to be making decisions for people living in rural areas. The decisions need to be made by people living in the local area with a true understanding of what is required here. 

Minister Dix – the system needs to be changed to use the knowledge and expertise of local volunteers responsible for health care within their communities. Give the responsibility to volunteer health boards once again. It worked before, will again and will save many health care dollars. It will also ensure that our health care monies will be put where they belong and with the most impact for our rural areas. 



We, the taxpayers of the Kootenays and elsewhere in rural B.C., need to regain local control over our health care! Minister Dix, please help us in this regard and stop the centralization of services in urban areas. Being second -class citizens in terms of health care is not good enough!



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