Dr. Alex Nataros is a resident of Port Hardy. (Supplied photo)

Dr. Alex Nataros is a resident of Port Hardy. (Supplied photo)

NATAROS: Building our common healthy future

‘Dr. Granger Avery has long called for a centralized hospital to serve our North Island’

For a time, I worked in obstetrics – catching babies and assisting with cesarian sections – in the Mennonite communities of Morden-Winkler in southern Manitoba.

The two communities, sharing a common region, are separated by a 25-minute drive and united mid-way by Boundary Trails Health Centre: a hospital sitting at the junction of highways 3 and 14.

Sound like a familiar story?

One of my mentors and heroes, Order of Canada recipient and retired Port McNeill doctor, Dr. Granger Avery, has long called for a centralized hospital to serve our North Island. Dr. Avery started or played a key role in all of the leading rural healthcare organizations in B.C.

Dr. Avery knows what he is talking about. We need to listen to Dr. Avery.

Yet somehow, rather than heed the suggestions of experienced physicians, past and present, of our North Island communities, we instead have a floundering North Island healthcare system directed by central/south Vancouver Island.

It boggles my mind.

A recent announcement for $30 million to address our North Island healthcare crisis splashed the pages of this newspaper and got media attention across B.C. They even announced the potential introduction of a mobile CT scanner. Funny because I don’t know a single North Island doctor who has said we need a CT scanner in the North Island.

CT scans don’t order themselves, and if doctors aren’t calling for a CT scanner, who is? Maybe it’s politically flashy, but it doesn’t immediately improve our ability to provide patient care. I would rather be able to order full bloodwork on my patients while working overnight in Port McNeil emerg and be able to rule out appendicitis or pancreatitis. But that’s just me. And all of my medical colleagues.

I guess our opinions don’t matter to Island Health leadership. And we wonder why we are losing so many doctors, leaving our North Island community, beset by a revolving door of return-of-service doctors eager to leave once their time is up.

We can do better. We must do better. We have unelected officials who are not currently being held accountable despite the dereliction of their duties and their continued harassment of North Island doctors. But we also have elected officials – Mayor/Council, MLA, MP, Premier and Minister of Health – who are accountable to us. And they can hold these unelected bureaucrats to account.

Let’s build our common healthy future, together.

For ideas/topics you would like explored, please email suggestions to: alexnatarosMD@gmail.com or find me online Facebook/Twitter “Alex Nataros MD” Note this is Not for personal medical questions – for these you should present to clinic/emerg or call 8-11.

Dr. Alex Nataros is a resident of Port Hardy and writes bi-weekly for the North Island Gazette

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ColumnistIsland Health