Bob White is a cancer patient with a positive outlook on life. The Thrums resident projects energy and optimism, but has been in contact with the Castlegar News about some concerns raised during his ongoing treatment.
“For the past two years I have gone to the Castlegar Health Centre (used to be a hospital) to visit the lab every four months for blood testing,” White related in a late April letter. “As I approached the lab lobby it was standing room only and the looks of dismay on the people’s faces as they looked at me approaching made me sick. Most of us in there are seniors and are in need of help. I was reminded of puppy dog eyes.”
White says he can remember such occasions that took no longer than 20 minutes, so the frustrating change inspired him to look for an explanation.
“I talked to the hospital and was told a fellow in Kelowna has reduced our hours of service due to a shortage of technicians,” White recalled. “His name is Mark Anderson and I called him (office- 1-250-420-4114). He claimed this action is a result of a lack of health care workers and that this was the same situation in Trail, Nelson, and Cranbrook.”
White also registered his concern with Katrine Conroy’s office, to be reportedly told, “they can’t do anything about this as they can’t be advocates.”
Interior Health’s Mark Anderson told the Castlegar News via email that time spent waiting for service can vary.
“Lab wait times for non-urgent, out-patient testing at any of our sites can vary depending on the day of the week and time of day,” said the spokesperson. “Mornings, in general, are busier. On Mondays and the day after a long weekend we do have more people coming in so waits will be longer. We were short staffed in Castlegar the Tuesday after Easter, which also contributed to longer waits that day.”
“I phoned the Nelson Hospital and told my story,” said White. ‘Come on in’ I was told, ‘be prepared for a wait of between five to 10 minutes,’ they are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and work through lunch hour. “I’m off to Nelson tomorrow, which is too bad because I’m really making the situation worse in Castlegar because I’m not supporting my local community. I need health care, fighting cancer is a tough fight, fighting the health care system is too much and I need to go where I can get the help I need now.”
Anderson conceded there are more factors involved in the scenario.
“Unfortunately, right now we are dealing with some staffing challenges and there may be times when waits could be longer than usual. I know waits can be frustrating for residents,” he concluded. “It’s important to know that urgent testing for emergency department patients is prioritized and will be done quickly.”