SUBMITTED PHOTO Island Health held a forum in Port Alice about service changes that will be happening to health care in the village.

Port Alice Health Forum gets heated, residents deeply concerned about the loss of emergency medical care

Speakers expressed dissatisfaction with Island Health and BC Ambulance Services in general.

Carrying PORT ALICE LIVES MATTER placards, Port Alice residents attended a community meeting with Island Health on Wednesday February 20 at the Port Alice Recreation Centre to discuss proposed changes to health services.

From the community of approximately 750, the seating for 150 was nearly filled, and there were at least 40 standees. Emotions ran high and commentary was heated.

A uniformed police officer was in attendance. Representing Island health were: Elin Bjarnason – Vice President, Clinical Service Delivery, Dr. Jennifer Grace – Executive Medical Director, Allison Mitchell – Director Mt. Waddington/Strathcona, and Dermot Kelly – Executive Director. BC Ambulance service was represented by Lance Stephenson, Director – Patient Care Delivery – Vancouver Island, Mike Aubie, Manager, Patient Care Delivery, North Island, and Maria Fraser, Acting Unit Chief.

The meeting was scheduled for 6 to 8 PM. When the floor was opened to questions and comments, the meeting went into overtime. When it was adjourned at 8:40, many were still wishing to speak.

The residents’ main concern was the statement in the mail out which reads: “Port Alice Health Centre staff will no longer provide emergency or urgent (non-primary) care”. The reasons for elimination of those services were cited as: “Decreasing utilization/challenges in staffing 24/7 urgent care services”. Other changes would be a reduction from 1.4 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) physicians to .8, and a reduction from 2 FTE Registered Nurses (includes on call) to 1 Registered Nurse FTE (no on call).

The advance notice also states: “Emergency and urgent care will be provided by BC Ambulance Service”. It was noted by Lance Stephenson that the nearest BC Ambulance Service helicopter to Port Alice would be from Richmond. That would be a straight line distance of 343 kilometres—not within operational range of their helicopters.

Mr. Stephenson stated: “we have a contract with West Coast Helicopters out of Port McNeil that provide us air support to your area with local paramedics.”

What was made clear at the meeting was that Port Alice residents are deeply concerned about the loss of emergency medical care. Speakers drew attention to high risk occupations in the forest industry and the frequent need for prompt medical attention.

Others referred to the ageing population as Port Alice transitions from an industry town to a retirement town and an increasing – not decreasing – need for health care. It was pointed out that access to Port Alice is sometimes impossible in winter, by road or air. A number of speakers related personal anecdotes about how they would not have survived without prompt emergency care in Port Alice before being transferred to other hospitals by ambulance.

Other speakers expressed dissatisfaction with Island Health and BC Ambulance Services in general. Dr. Jennifer Grace spoke at length about the difficulties involved in maintaining the proficiency of practitioners in small communities where some procedures are seldom performed.

Dr. Henderson, who serves Port Alice, commented that removing the emergency room and replacing it with a bath was “ridiculous”, and received a round of applause.

– Bob Leask article

 

Just Posted

Aftershock soccer tournament takes over Port Hardy fields

Around the clock matches were played in divisions ranging from tots to U18.

Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre’s 2018-2019 graduating class

The Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre is located on the Tsulquate reserve in the North Island.

Skin deep: A look inside the ink behind Beacon Tattoo

Patrick Berube, owner of Beacon Tattoo, spends most of his Tuesdays at… Continue reading

Second recreational cannabis shop opens its doors in Port Hardy

Pacificanna owner Darren Saunders was excited to finally see his family-run business open up shop.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: A lone crow landing beside an eagle

“I saw an eagle just sitting there, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t be there long as I got closer”

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

Nanaimo man gets jail time for posting explicit photos of ex-girlfriends

Man’s name cannot be revealed to protect victims’ identities

North Island thrift store robbed at knifepoint, say RCMP

Suspect fled on bicycle following Tuesday stick-up

RCMP across Canada to soon unionize, according to B.C. mayor

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Driver has $240K McLaren impounded minutes after buying it in West Vancouver

Officers clocked the car travelling at 160 km/h along Highway 1 in a 90 km/h zone

UPDATE: RCMP arrest second person in North Island arson investigation

Police say suspects identified, house fire ‘not random’

Most Read