Regional hospital board's mandate doesn't extend to providing doctor's residences - InfoNews

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Regional hospital board's mandate doesn't extend to providing doctor's residences

Regional district directors discussed a request by Interior Health to fund a doctor's residence to assist in attracting locums to South Okanagan General Hospital at today's board meeting, March 21, 2019.
March 21, 2019 - 7:00 PM

PENTICTON - The regional district’s hospital board has a mandate to provide funding for capital projects, not operational works, making it difficult to support a request from two South Okanagan communities to assist in providing accommodations for doctors.

Oliver and Osoyoos were recently received a letter from Interior Health Authority in a letter suggesting if the towns wished to support physicians working at South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver, they could do so by securing housing for visiting locums.

The letter was brought before the board of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen today, March 21, at the hospital committee meeting.

The issue surrounds a lack of practioners at South Okanagan General Hospital that has led to numerous closures of the emergency room.

Interior Health said in the letter securing housing for locums wanting to travel to practice in South Okanagan communities “has been and continues to be a real challenge.”

Interior Health also said a dedicated residence close to the hospital would ensure easily accessible and comfortable housing for out-of-town physicians travelling to the communities to work.

Regional District Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell said the district hasn’t been involved in operational costs of the area’s health care facilities, but is responsible for generating 40 per cent of capital costs.

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff said the two communities would probably look into finding a residence suitable for the municipalities to rent even if the issue wasn’t a regional service, a sentiment echoed by regional hospital board chair Petra Veintimilla, who said eight months of the year it wasn’t a problem to find accommodations but the four summer months were a challenge.

“For many years, Oliver and Osoyoos working together, have provided accommodation of some sort… and looked at ways to help locums and people who come in and work at the emergency department, because really we’re looking at trying to keep that service open for our residents,” she said.

“I think we’re probably going to proceed anyway because we absolutely feel the need,” she said, adding she wasn’t sure whether there could be a regional service or not.

Keremeos Director Manfred Bauer said each area was different in how they funded and were allotted funding for doctors.

“I think if an area like Oliver and Osoyoos and rural areas A and C see the need to do some fundraising and establish a service outside the hospital district through a service establishment, that would be the way to go, I don’t see the hospital district, with a mandate for capital infrastructure financing to get into a sub-regional initiative,” Bauer said.

Calling today’s discussion ‘phase one,’ West Bench Director Riley Gettens suggested directors continue the conversation over the next six to eight months with the possibility of a workshop later in the year.

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