By Jennifer Stahn
As the May 14 election edges a little closer candidates are facing numerous questions from residents about how they will address the many concerns in the Kamloops if elected. One of the hot topics in Kamloops is healthcare – specifically lack of family doctors and overcrowding at Royal Inland Hospital.
The Government of British Columbia recently partnered with the B.C. Medical Association to establish an incentive program to help fill 20 pre-designated family physician and specialist positions in rural communities, including two general practitioners for Clearwater. Only the needs of rural healthcare have been addressed by this initiative and many still want to see more done for Kamloops.
We asked Kamloops candidates how they plan to address the concerns of residents and medical staff and here is what they had to say.
Ed Fehr, B.C. Conservatives, Kamloops-North Thompson
“We will review all aspects of the health care policy, service and delivery. This means that overcrowding, wait times and doctor shortages will be addressed. All patients needing surgery will receive it, not just certain select groups. There are people who urgently need back surgeries who have to wait two to three years for surgery, which is totally unacceptable.”
Tom Friedman, B.C. NDP, Kamloops-South Thompson
“The backlog for surgeries and the overcrowding of the acute care facilities at Royal Inland Hospital are directly related to three serious gaps in our community's health care – a shortage of family physicians, the shortage of affordable assisted living and long-term care facilities for seniors and the lack of comprehensive medical and non-medical home support for seniors. When citizens do not have a family doctor their health is not being properly monitored and conditions that could have been addressed early on become acute and they are forced to present themselves at the ER.”
“The recruitment of family physicians for our region and a resumption of home support for seniors still able to live independently must be immediate priorities. Longer term, there must be a commitment to providing affordable care facilities. RIH physicians have pointed out that current acute care capacity is not sufficient for the growing population of the Kamloops region. The current government’s Phase I funding for expansion of RIH ($80 million—delayed until fiscal 2014-2015) will not increase that capacity. However, the proposed Phase II expansion should be supported if we are to meet those needs.”
Kathy Kendall, B.C. NDP, Kamloops-North Thompson
“The NDP is committed to the improvements promised to RIH. We are committed to reducing overcrowding in the critical care hospitals, proper allocation of resources to things like home care services and improved long term care and services to seniors rather than have them stuck in care facilities.”
Peter Sharp, B.C. Conservatives, Kamloops-South Thompson
“This is an outrage. Our hospital in Kamloops has indeed been part of a chess game, one in which patients are the pawns. The more nurses and doctors I talk with, the more families I meet who have seen first hand the conditions in our ER, and the more I read ... the more outraged I am becoming.”
“EVERY community deserves to have the best possible patient care that can be provided to the residents. This leads me to question why, in recent years, Kelowna and Vernon have been the recipients of $840 million dollars in upgrades to their hospitals (the vast majority spent in Kelowna) ... while Kamloops has received just $80 million.”
“Our community, despite an ever increasing population, has seen 50 per cent of patients beds at RIH removed and closed in the past two decades. The number of people being looked after at the ER has also increased by over 50 per cent, and yet the needs to care for these emergency patients has not kept pace. We deserve better ...and I pledge right now, that when I am elected as your MLA, I will not rest until we get no less than our fair share.”
B.C. Liberal candidates Todd Stone (Kamloops-South Thompson) and Terry Lake (Kamloops-North Thompson) did not respond.
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