Let’s all applaud Mayor Lawrence Chernoff for protesting the loonie deposit for wheelchairs at the Castlegar and District Health Centre (CDHC). The policy will impede patients’ access to emergency and other services, especially patients who are unfamiliar with the facility and the need for cash.
Diane Gagnon asserts that the deposit was implemented to prevent theft.
Based on my examination of chairs previously available at the entrance, they were more likely lost to disintegration, and, yes, as a former Red Cross volunteer technician, I am qualified to assess them. Typically, and at KBRH as well, they suffered from: loose wheel bearings, cut or punctured upholstery, missing foot rests, and other missing parts such as hand rims (on the wheels) and armrests, and were generally old, dirty and unsafe.
After an experience at KBRH, I complained to the IHA through the prescribed channels, and it admitted that there was a wheelchair problem, and no formal maintenance or repair program, but that “something would be done.”
Now we know what “something” was, and it took about eighteen months.
In a hospital/health centre these necessary devices will suffer multiple, unfamiliar users, so something more than basic ($300-$400) is needed, thus a higher price. But a regular program of inspection, maintenance and repair is essential, though I suppose locking them up to effectively prevent their use is cheaper.
It’s also not good enough to tell a reporter that if you don’t have a loonie, a staff member will unlock the chair for you. There is no information to that effect posted, just a demand for a dollar.
It’s not always easy to find a staff member. There may not be someone at the reception desk. The ER receptionist is often busy, and, of course, nurses, doctors, technicians, administrators work behind closed doors, and probably don’t know how to unlock the chairs.
And, if you’ve come by yourself, how do you get around without a wheelchair to look for a staff member?
Come on, IHA. Stop putting obstacles in the way of people seeking medical treatment, especially emergency treatment. Unlock the wheelchairs.