Since their formation in December 2001, regional health authorities in British Columbia have come under fire for their lack of sensitivity to the rural communities they serve.
Health authorities were created as part of a province-wide restructuring of health authorities by the new B.C. Liberal government under premier Gordon Campbell in 2001.
The formation of regional health authorities, including Interior Health (IH), was intended to give cohesiveness to medical-care services by merging smaller health authorities, and at the same time, save money by reducing health-care costs by eliminating duplication and bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, the goal of the reducing the cost of health-care services, which continue to grow by leaps and bounds, has become one of the primary goals and rural centres are suffering because there have been cuts in service.
IH is one of the regional health authorities that has been nipping away at services that have been in place for years.
It has certainly heard its share of charges about insensitivity and calls for cutting its burgeoning bureaucracy before cutting rural services.
100 Mile House and area has experienced these cuts and our friends and neighbours are paying the price.
There are a number of ongoing concerns for those who need health services in the 100 Mile House and the surrounding communities.
They mostly involve being forced to travel for everything from giving birth and dialysis treatment to finding residential care beds.
So, it was rather refreshing to read that District of 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall tore a strip off of a couple of IH representatives who came to a council meeting to inform the councillors of IH’s program funding in the community.
The mayor told the IH spokespersons what a lot of rural communities in the province have been feeling over the years – “we’re being treated like second-hand citizens.”
The confrontation between the community and IH has come to a head over the health authority continually refusing to accept a $230,000 donation from the South Cariboo Health Foundation (SCHF) to fund a local urologist – to cover equipment and two years of operation.
It’s a service that was available locally at one time until IH cancelled it.
Now, it is forcing Williams Lake and residents as far away as Bella Coola – mostly seniors – to travel to Kamloops to urology service. It is a long and potentially dangerous trip, especially in the winter and not necessary if the SCHF had its way.
The IH representative’s answer was it would definitely review it again in 2015/16.
This health authority needs to review its penchant for making cookie cutter solutions for health care.
Our population is aging and IH has to start thinking outside the box to correct issues in our rural communities.