New Denver Mayor, IH, Speak to Emergency Department Disruptions

Interior Health new

The Mayor of New Denver is urging residents to write to the province and support Interior Health in hiring more health professionals.

This after the Slocan Community Health Centre's Emergency Department was closed again earlier this week, October 30th and 31st, due to limited nursing availability.

Mayor Leonard Casley tells Bounce News that these intermittent closures have been going on for about two years:

“Because we’re small I feel we’re being left out and unfortunately you know we’ve being trying to talk to our MLA and talk with Interior Health and stuff but we seem to be easily cherry picked for staff to fill in at other sites so we’re the ones often that end of taking the brunt of it.”

The Mayor says they only have one ambulance paramedic and during these ER closures it's hard to know if an ambulance is even in service.

Mayor Casley has a message for concerned residents:

“Our population base is 39% over 65-years old. Please continue to email your MLA and the Minster of Health until…. The only way we can get anything it seems is to continue to hound them…. Take the action that seems to be the flavor of the day in politics: Maybe we’ll hold back funds. We know that we really can’t but it’s the only thing that ever actually seems to get any kind of action other than coming and sitting down and chatting with us and trying to figure this out.”

“I think the government needs to hear our conversations and we’ve had a request out…. We fall on deaf ears when it comes to the Ministry.” adds Casley

He says ongoing "Rural Health Care Matters" rallies in New Denver highlight another issue for the facility:

“The first one (rally) I organized and then the second one was organized by, I don’t know who…. It’s over the lack of maintenance and the trip and fall hazards throughout the facility there and the entrance to the long term care facility. It wasn’t really the hospital side.”

Bounce News reached out to Interior Health and the Ministry of Health for comment and received the following from IH:

“Interior Health is working on a variety of strategies to stabilize local emergency department services and IH does everything possible to fill all shifts. We only make changes to our services as a last resort when we have taken all steps to fill a shift.

We continue to face significant staffing challenges in New Denver and Nakusp or Arrow Lakes Area, and, despite our recruitment efforts and a range of incentives available to staff who choose to work in rural communities, we have been unable to attract any further nursing staff to the area. Until we are able to recruit new staff to the community, our priority is to maintain consistent reliable service during the daytime hours when we see the most patient visits. We are not in a position to reinstate overnight service at this time.

Interior Health is working diligently to attract more medical staff to our region by building a recruitment and retention strategy that includes web-based and in-person marketing, competitive compensation structures and alternative financial incentives.  In addition, Interior Health will be providing opportunities to grow careers, expand skill sets, while prioritizing work-life balance and an inclusive culture for all our medical staff. Interior Health is actively working in partnership with other agencies to assist in minimizing current barriers to timely recruitment including, Immigration and Licensure.”

The Ministry tells Bounce News that Interior Health is best to speak to this matter.