Port McNeill-based Dr. Prean Armogam answers some questions about health care in the North Island region.
You have been a veteran physician. What are your thoughts on the future of health care in our region?
The pandemic continues to test all of us in ever changing ways. It is important for us as individuals to adapt to these challenges in how we live and for our continued well being in how we access safe clinic and emergency care. I believe that the health care system and political response to the pandemic has been reasonable,relative to responses elsewhere in the world.I am thankful to live and work in the North Island.
For sustainable and good health care in the region, I believe that there needs to be a firm commitment and planning of care especially for those that are most vulnerable like the elderly and First Nations. Normalizing the brokenness and a piecemeal placating problem-solving approach without objectivity and data or a regional lens is not a solution.Embracing team based care is key to a better regional model. Having more staffing resources are always welcome but only as valuable as the management and quality of those staffing resources as part of the larger health care team. There should be constructive solutions with informed decisions by the appointed custodians of care provision on the island.
You have been advocating for a different medical model for Port McNeill. Are you pleased with where things are?
I have advocated for a public funded clinic model to create regional equality with other communities in the region, reduce the clinic operating cost to the physicians and to improve recruitment and retention of physicians. We have a different clinic model but unless there is transparency and fairness with a standard on how these clinics are run, it will not achieve the success it should especially given the absence of local leadership operational support and mentorship to new physicians.
You recently announced that you will be opening a private practice clinic in Port McNeill?
Yes. I had hoped to transition the private practice model to one I thought would be better supported. This has not been the case. In the interests of meeting the patient care needs I have decided to continue with a private practice model as well.
You have been at odds with the health authority for a while. Did you want to comment on that?
Only so far as to say that it is unfortunate how some decisions are made. These decisions that affect local people are made with a Victoria-centric mindset with little understanding of the challenges faced by local people. There are many people within the health authority that are competent,well intentioned and do their level best in being part of our health care team. We just need the senior leadership teams to do the same. I was chastised for speaking out when I was really pushing against inequity and privilege and for advocating to make things better for the people of the region. I have been haunted by my past regarding some issues but have been advised that the health authority does take these seriously. It is frustrating to see the continued mismanagement of resources and overall fiscal irresponsibility. I nonetheless accept that we all co-exist and I hope it provide the best care I can.
What do you make of the alternate hospital diversions between Port McNeill and Port Hardy?
It is very worrisome.Diversions between the two larger regional hospitals is confusing for all including the ambulance staff and nurses/doctors let alone the patients. It also has a major impact on patients from Alert Bay, Port Alice and Sointula when there are diversions. There has been much discussion around this and seems to remain in limbo.
Do you think the diversions are a signal for a single hospital site in the North Island?
It does seem to appear that way.
I had hoped that there was some recognition of individual community needs but also the needs of the region. Closing sites isn’t a solution and fragmenting acute care resources isn’t one either.
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