Citizen’s group wants forum on health

A local citizens group would like to see a public forum on health.

Todd Mastel (talking) and Ingrid Hampf (to his right) of IHA gave presentations at the West Kootenay Regional Hospital District meeting on Jan. 18.

Todd Mastel (talking) and Ingrid Hampf (to his right) of IHA gave presentations at the West Kootenay Regional Hospital District meeting on Jan. 18.

The West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District (RHD) held their first board meeting of 2012 on Jan. 18 at the Castlegar Community Complex.

Margarite Rotvold, mayor of Midway, was acclaimed as board chair, while Walter Popoff, regional director for electoral area H, was named acting chair. Neither went opposed.

Named to the executive committee were Paul Peterson for Arrow Lakes-Castlegar-Nakusp, Garry Jackman for Kootenay (Kaslo-Nelson-Slocan), Irene Perepolkin for Boundary, and Kathy Wallace for Trail.

Representatives from the Interior Health Authority (IHA) gave a presentation regarding their 2012/13 capital funding request. IHA is asking for $751,500 from the RHD for several upcoming items. RHD’s funding commitment is 40% of IHA total tentative budget of $1,878,705. The major items include a new ultrasound machine for the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) in Trail at $142,000, two new elevators for Kootenay Lakes Hospital, and pathology department renovations at KBRH.

Representatives from a citizens’ group called ‘Citizens for Access to Better Health Care’ were present and voiced their displeasure about lack of communication between the IHA, the hospital board, and the public.

“We are a group that’s in the community that finds that the IHA are avoiding looking after the people,” said group spokesperson Dean McKinnon. “It’s a disappointment to always be told, ‘go over here’, ‘go over there’. They’re hiding all the time. They hold all the money. They’re a private corporation running a public funded health care system.”

The group would like to see more accountability among IHA as well as the hospital boards.

“We’d like to see a forum together where people from the whole Kootenay Boundary area can come in and express their feelings on how health care is provided in their area,” said McKinnon. “We want these guys to understand that we’re not going to go away.”

At the meeting, McKinnon expressed concern about IHA purchasing a new ultra-sound machine for the hospital in Trail, while the machine in Castlegar is only used twice a week due to a lack of staffing.

“They have a backlog in Nelson and Trail,” he said. “We’ve got one that’s open two days a week. Open it up. Let those people drive to Castlegar. It’s a nice, clean little place. They also remark that there’s no funding to put people into a position to run it. It’s always a game with them and we’re tired of it.”

Interior Health acute area director Ingrid Hampf told Castlegar News that it isn’t possible to involve stakeholders in every decision but they do work a great deal on connection with community representatives, patients, and clients. “Interior Health believes in working with the people we serve; it’s one of our planning principles,” she said. “A great deal of work goes on connecting with community representatives, patients and clients – we value the public’s voice.”

One of the most direct avenues IHA uses is the Patient Voices Network (PVN) to ensure they include members of the public when working on changes or improvements to specific projects or programs.

 

“The public’s voice is valued and I encourage anyone who’s interested in helping shape health care decision-making to join the Patient Voices Network,” said Hampf. “There are many ways to participate – whether through Interior Health or at the provincial level.”