Cuts injure Bella Coola medical patients

About 100 women per year will lose mammography screening services in their community, when BC Ferries Route 40 is cancelled in April, 2014.

Dear editor,

About 100 women per year will lose mammography screening services in their community, when BC Ferries Route 40, from Bella Coola to Port Hardy, is cancelled in April, 2014.

Currently, Bella Coola residents can get mammograms through the Mobile Screening Mammography Program of BC. BC Ferries carries the mammography van, with the equipment, into the community. Losing the ferry service means losing the visits, as the only road — from Williams Lake to Bella Coola — is too bumpy to safely transport the medical equipment by van.

The United Church Health Services Society (UCHSS), which governs Bella Coola General Hospital and medical clinic, has deep concerns about the impact of BC Ferries “service adjustments” on the health of the region. The loss of in-community mammography services means the hospital must ask government to find another $50,000 for transportation, so women can access mammograms elsewhere.

Because of the ferries cut, we believe fewer women will get screened for breast cancer, as they’ll need to travel to do so. The immediate health consequences of losing the Bella Coola-Port Hardy route are jarring. One of Canada’s great successes has been providing excellent health care in rural and remote settings. We are recognized, international leaders in this. The medical staff and administration at The United Church Health Services Society are distressed that health delivery and health outcomes were not considerations in cancelling this route.

In addition to losing the mammogram program, the UCHSS is gravely concerned that the loss of the ferry will mean loss of tourism for Bella Coola. As logging and fishing have declined over the past several decades, tourism has become the region’s primary economic driver, and it was growing.

While it’s unusual for a health agency to speak out about tourism, in Bella Coola it’s a core employer. For many families, tourism has become an opportunity to grow a small business. We know that income and health are inextricably linked. Less employment here ultimately will mean poorer health in this community.

Finally, UCHSS anticipates that the loss of the ferry service will significantly impede efforts to recruit and retain health care professionals for Bella Coola. Recruitment is already a challenge in BC’s small communities.

The administration at UCHSS is hopeful that BC Ferries and the Ministry of Transportation will recognize the importance of Route 40 to the health of Bella Coola residents, and reinstate ferry service to this community.

Lynn Nelson,

UCHSS board chair

Mary Jean Morrison, UCHSS CEO

Dr. Peter Newbery, UCHSS Medical Director

 

Just Posted

Forest fire 1.5 km from Sara Lake listed as out of control

While the fire is classified as out of control, they expect it to be under control imminently.

62.5 pounder caught off north of Port Hardy

“It was a team effort to land this 62.5 lb fish”

20th annual OrcaFest takes over Port McNeill

Check out the North Island Gazette’s OrcaFest photo gallery!

Oh Yeah takes a bite out of Woodchuckers at OrcaFest slo-pitch tournament in Port McNeill

Oh Yeah defeated the Woodchuckers 21-10 after seven innings.

Gate House Theatre reopens, kicks off OrcaFest in style

It was an evening of laughter and good times and the perfect launch to the festival weekend.

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ at Vancouver Island industrial site

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Vancouver Island senior found safe with help from six search and rescue teams

Wayne Strilesky found safe in thick brush in north Nanaimo

Most Read