Undue delays – Editorial

It’s bad enough that Castlegar residents don’t have access to many important medical services in their own community. The lack of a full-time emergency room and the irregular availability of key diagnostics such as ultrasound imaging create enough frustration for people in this community, as it forces them to travel to larger and better equipped facilities such as the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail.

It’s bad enough that Castlegar residents don’t have access to many important medical services in their own community. The lack of a full-time emergency room and the irregular availability of key diagnostics such as ultrasound imaging create enough frustration for people in this community, as it forces them to travel to larger and better equipped facilities such as the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail.

But the situation is made far worse when patients can’t even rely on timely transportation to these facilities when faced with a medical emergency. As the Castlegar News reports in this edition, several local families are justifiably concerned after loved ones experienced dangerously long delays in being transferred for critical treatment.

Christine Robertson, for example, said she was shocked by how long it took for her mother to be transferred to Trail (four and a half hours) and ultimately to Kelowna (another nine hours) after she started exhibiting signs of a stroke in January.  She questioned why an ambulance brought her mom to the health centre in Castlegar in the first place.

Interior Health cited a policy which requires ambulances to take patients “to the nearest hospital that meets the needs of those patients” but also noted that this rule can be bypassed in certain situations, such as “major traumatic accidents.” These exceptions should also extend to critical situations like the one experienced by Robertson’s mother, which is now under investigation by Interior Health.

Of course, it would be far better if Castlegar residents could simply count on having the emergency medical services they need in their own city, but that doesn’t appear likely anytime soon. While this ought to remain a longer-term goal for the provincial government, in the meantime Interior Health needs to review its policies and practices and ensure undue transportation delays like these never happen again.

— Castlegar News