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No immediate help coming from health minister to relieve COVID pressure at Kamloops, Kelowna hospitals

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
September 09, 2021 - 2:47 PM

Health Minister Adrian Dix is doing nothing new to ease the extreme pressure on health-care staff after a 70-year-old woman reportedly died after waiting more than six hours in the emergency room at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

Nor are significant changes coming for Kelowna General Hospital as both facilities face heavy case loads of COVID-19 patients that are leaving staff stressed and the facilities often short-handed.

“We’re doing what we’ve done, significantly, all over the province,” Dix said at a news conference today, Sept. 9. “We are, purposely, in some places, delaying non-urgent surgeries and reallocating staff to address some of these issues.”

READ MORE: IH and coroners service reviewing 'unexpected' death at Royal Inland Hospital

Dix faced repeated questions from media as to what his ministry is going to do right now to ease the pressure in Kamloops, including a suggestion that the army be called in.

Repeatedly he said the solution is for people to get vaccinated.

The minister pointed out that 111 of the 130 people currently in intensive care units suffering from COVID-19 are unvaccinated. That includes 10 people aged 25 to 34, 21 aged 35 to 49, 32 aged 50 to 59 and 25 over the age of 60.

“These numbers demonstrate, again, the seriousness of COVID-19,” Dix said. “If you need to be in an ICU with COVID-19, you are extremely ill and it will have consequences for you now and, potentially, far into the future.”

READ MORE: Take your frustrations out on COVID and politicians, not healthcare workers: Premier Horgan

Just because a high proportion of those in hospital and ICU are unvaccinated, that doesn’t mean they won’t get the best treatment available, just like anyone else.

“This number of people, unvaccinated, sick in our ICU’s, they are receiving some of the best health care we have ever seen in the world,” Dix said. “Our outcomes for people who end up in ICU are, simply, the best in the world.”

The government has invested heavily in recruiting and training more staff and has focused particularly on Royal Inland Hospital, he said.

Still, dozens if not hundreds of non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled in the Interior Health region. In comparison, only about 20 were postponed in the Vancouver Coastal health region in August, he said.

The only real solution Dix repeatedly offered to ending the strain on Interior emergency rooms is for people to get vaccinated. Only 14.7 per cent of B.C.'s population over the age of 12 are unvaccinated yet they make up 85 per cent of those in ICU with the disease, he said.

“There is nothing heroic in presenting a target for COVID-19,” Dix said. “There is nothing gained by anyone when someone falls victim to this vicious disease.”

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