Acute care study to press ahead through summer 2014

Placement of health related investment of keen interest to each West Kootenay city

Mayor Chernoff stresses the fact that procedure is designed to stimulate dialogue.

Mayor Chernoff stresses the fact that procedure is designed to stimulate dialogue.

With files from Sam Van Schie, Nelson Star.

A lack of early, enthusiastic regional support notwithstanding, a study being instigated by the City of Castlegar in relation to the future evolution of acute health care is worthwhile and doing what it was meant to do, indicated Mayor Lawrence Chernoff on February 12.

The mayor was contacted for comment in regard to a Nelson Star report describing reticence, on the part of Castlegar’s neighbours, to embrace the study.

“Nelson council is following the City of Trail’s lead by declining to take part in a Castlegar-funded initiative to develop a strategic plan on acute care,” the Feb. 11 article states in part, “for fear such a plan would endorse a central hospital model for all acute care and jeopardize surgical services offered at Kootenay Lake Hospital.”

It’s too early to take any offense at such reactions from other civic governments, suggested the Castlegar mayor.

“My take on it is, each individual community is going to make their decision,” said Chernoff. “In this process all we’re looking for is to get the communications going, and alive.” He denied there was disappointment over early reaction, from Nelson, for example, stating, “the City of Castlegar just took the leadership role to get the communications going. All we’re looking for is feedback from communities… whether against or for… that’s the choice that each council… each director makes. And that’s fine. All we’re looking for is a little input.” What follows is a portion of the late January press release issued by the City of Castlegar, announcing and describing the strategic program.

“Local government input is being solicited to help develop a strategic plan to assist the region in making decisions to guide acute health care investments in the coming years. The work to develop the plan and community consultation is being undertaken by Jim Gustafson, a Kootenay-based consultant.

“It is known that in the coming years the Kootenay Boundary Health Region will undergo major studies to direct investments in acute care. Thinking strategically, sharing information and building capacity at the community level is the purpose of this initiative.

“The importance of acute care to individual communities across the region is clear and making the right choices in the future is fundamental to the strategic plan as 40 per cent of capital costs with acute care are the responsibility of regional taxpayers.

“All 30 jurisdictions of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital board are being asked to contribute to the draft strategic plan.

The strategic plan is scheduled to be completed by summer, 2014, and will be presented to the Board of Directors of the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board for their consideration.

The City of Castlegar is initiating the study.