DEBRA LYNN PHOTO The June 11 Health Forum meeting in Port Alice was a lively one, with good discussion about health care in the village.

Services at the Port Alice Health Centre get clarification from Island Health…. sort of

“In our initial talks it was imperative that the emergency room and all the equipment could stay”

After a long battle with Island Health fighting to maintain emergency services in Port Alice, the town now has an “urgent care room”—implying a centre for dealing with non-life-threatening health issues only—but with emergency room equipment.

The Port Alice Health Forum had their last meeting before summer break on June 11 in the Port Alice Community Centre. While the Director of Mount Waddington/Strathcona, Allison Mitchell, gave a report from Island Health on the status of the conflict resolutions, she was confronted for her frequent use of the word, “urgent care room”.

According to Island Health literature, “urgent care” refers to a centre that deals with sprains, strains, urinary tract infections, moderate asthma symptoms, cuts or wounds, minor injuries, moderate backaches, abdominal pain and migraines—all of which are non-emergency issues.

Valerie Eyford, Chair of the Port Alice Health Forum, was next to comment. “The emergency equipment is still here… we know we are not an emergency department or anything like that… but if you are in a crisis… and… you can get there, get there.”

It had been decided that the centre could not be officially called an emergency room because it lacked an on-call lab and x-ray technicians.

Mitchell added the centre has always been designated as an urgent care centre, it has never been designated as an emergency room or an emergency centre. She believes it may have been an emergency room when the health centre was a hospital.

Port Alice Mayor Kevin Cameron stated, “In our initial talks it was imperative that the emergency room and all the equipment could stay.”

It didn’t matter whether it was called an urgent care room or an emergency care room.

Eyford then quipped, “As long as you leave the equipment you could call it… The Dance Hall.”

Later in the meeting she commented, “You know this is all political and, down the road, another government will come in and then they’ll change the name of this, and we’ll all change the name of that…”

Mitchell reported that she is engaged in a conversation with BC Ambulance and Health Centre staff “to define what BC Ambulance will bring to the health centre and what they won’t, because their mandate right now is to bring to the most appropriate site, not necessarily the closest.”

Eyford then assured meeting participants that Dr. Mackenzie will be in on that conversation with BC Ambulance, implying that he will be defending the health needs of Port Alice residents.

Forum board member Sandra Morgan surmised, “The point is we are not losing our emergency room. We are not losing the equipment in our emergency room when we have skilled people here that can use it. They’ll use it and stabilize you just the same as they did before. It’s just that powers that be have changed the name.” She also added that, though Port Alice lost a .6 doctor and a .6 nurse, it did gain 24/7 on-call coverage which is something it didn’t have before.

– Debra Lynn article

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