Castlegar councillor responds to Trail Hospital dispute

After Trail council voted to support keeping KBRH the regional hospital, one Castlegar councillor spoke up.

At the March 12 Trail city council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to support a motion dedicated to keeping the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) as the regional hospital.

Trail councillor Kevin Jolly felt compelled to lead his fellow councillors to take a stand after Castlegar councillors Kevin Chernoff and Russ Hearne, as well as city administrative officer John Malcolm, met with Health Minister Mike DeJong earlier in March and discussed the possibility of a new regional hospital.

“We must send a clear message and speak with one voice to all those who would act to destabilize and dispute the future of KBRH in Trail,” said Jolly. “Now is the time to show our unwavering support to our citizens, who financially support this hospital, the medical community and staff who labour in it and most importantly for the patients who rely on KBRH in their times of need.”

A letter from Trail Council will be sent to Interior Health, DeJong, and Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy to further express their stance.

“I guess it’s a response to what got reported about our visit to Victoria,” said Chernoff on Monday. “They never talked to us about it.”

Chernoff said discussions with DeJong about a possible new regional hospital for the area was just one of several topics discussed which included the lack of ambulance attendants.

“We talked about having a new regional hospital,” he said. “We didn’t talk about shutting down Trail or Nelson’s hospital. That’s never been the intent of this. Those hospitals still offer a good service to us for primary care but we’re really missing a facility that does acute care.”

Chernoff would like to see more dialogue between the two councils.

“We were, I guess, painted in a negative light because we didn’t talk to them before we went down to Victoria to talk hospitals,” he said. “I think every municipality has a right and they need to support their initiatives and the hospital has been something during the election and even before that has been an ongoing issue. It’s something that I myself will continue to keep advancing. I don’t want it to just be swept under the rug. I think we can do a lot better for the whole region.”

Chernoff said a new hospital for the region is still years away and in the meantime he supports the Trail hospital and would like to see improved service and facilities there.

“After 8 o’clock when we lose our hospital services here, I have to go to the Trail hospital,” he said. “It would be detrimental for me not to support the Trail hospital. It’s an important service. Ultimately, a new hospital is years away still. Most people would like to see a new one here tomorrow but that’s not the reality of it.”

Chernoff would like to see a proper process in place to determine the location of a potential new regional hospital.

A Hospital to Castlegar is no less important to my community than Trail’s is to them, but unlike Trail Councillor Jolly’s position that no planning should take place because Trail is the one and only place a new hospital should be located, I disagree. I am willing to let the planning process decide the best location,” he said.