Want to write a letter to the editor? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.

Want to write a letter to the editor? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.

LETTER: Port Alice Health Centre Changes

“What a difficult situation they have placed our ambulance personnel in!”

Dear editor,

Re: Port Alice Health Centre Changes

In a community the size of Port Alice, people talk to each other, that’s what good neighbors do. As the Chair of the Port Alice Health Forum Society, I have been talking to many people in our beautiful, peaceful community. People are concerned about the changes being made by the Vancouver Health Authority. The thing that is surprising is just how many people tell me they do not believe they would be alive today without the intervention by the Emergency Medical Personnel at the Port Alice Health Centre.

Back in May of 2018 the Premier made an announcement:

“B.C. will be able to lead the way with team-based care — and that team-based approach means we will be able to connect people to doctors, nurse practitioners, psychologists, pharmacist, social workers, dietitians and physiotherapists that will meet their needs where they need it when they need it,” said Horgan.

Primary-care networks, which will be rolled out in 70 per cent of B.C. communities, will link local care teams to other services to allow patients better access to comprehensive health care. The first of these five networks will be in Prince George, Richmond, Burnaby, Comox and the South Okanagan Similkameen region. Horgan also announced the establishment of urgent primary-care centres across the province, aimed at patients who are in need of care but may not need to go to the hospital.

“They will be open on evenings and weekends to take pressure off emergency rooms where people often find themselves when they have nowhere else to go,”

This is the mandate that the Government has set for the Health Authorities. VIHA is attempting to fulfill this mandate by changing the “Port Alice Health Centre” which has traditionally offered Emergency Care, into an “Urgent primary-care centre”, in effect you can get sick in Port Alice, but if your life is at stake, you must call an ambulance and be transported over a winding, nauseating drive to either Port McNeill or Port Hardy. Our Ambulance attendants are wonderful and we appreciate their dedication. They have been told that if there is no Doctor in Port Alice, they must take all their calls to the Hospital in Port Hardy or Port McNeill. In essence they have not been able to have a patient seen here prior to being transported. What a difficult situation they have placed our ambulance personnel in!

Island Health’s Vice-President of Clinical Service Delivery, Elin Bjarnason has told us that we never had an Emergency Department because an Emergency Department has on call services like lab, and x-ray. But tell that to my friends and neighbors who are here today because of the “emergency lifesaving treatment” they received at the Port Alice Health Centre. These Urgent Primary Care Centre Facilities are great in an urban setting where Emergency Care is close at hand, but that is just not true here.

We are repeatedly told, “this is not about money”, however we have been never been told just what it is about. The catch phrase is “We are reinvesting in Port Alice”. Is this “reinvesting” a move to fulfill a political agenda and the Government can claim they created a “Urgent primary care centre”? If so it is like making a sow’s ear out of a silk purse!

Yours Sincerely,

Valerie Eyford

Chairperson, Port Alice Health Forum Society