It’s true that health-care delivery in rural areas remains a problem across the country, but simply stating this fact doesn’t excuse the lack of basic services in places like Castlegar.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all we’ve heard from B.C. Liberal leadership candidates who have taken time to visit the West Kootenay in recent weeks.
Kevin Falcon was the latest to zip through the area and the former health minister could only offer platitudes when asked what can be done to fix the problems that plague the health-care system in this part of the province.
He pointed out the obvious — that staffing issues have been a challenge in rural areas for years — but offered no real solutions. He noted his government has boosted the number of doctors and nurses being trained in B.C. universities, but didn’t mention the fact that, under this same government, Castlegar lost 24-hour ER service.
Today, the city also lost regular ultrasound service. The imaging machine — which only remains in Castlegar thanks to a massive public protest against plans to move it to Trail — will sit idle indefinitely because the Interior Health Authority doesn’t have the technologists to staff it. The same problem in Nelson has sidelined that city’s echocardiography (heart ultrasound) machine.
During his recent visit to the region, Liberal leadership candidate George Abbott called out the IHA over these kinds of problems, but the hypocrisy of his comments were correctly pointed out in last week’s letter to the editor from Sally Williams of the Castlegar & District Health Watch Society.
Health care is a provincial responsibility. It’s about time our provincial leaders started offering up some real plans to bring to rural areas a basic level of service that anyone living in a larger centre would take for granted.