Thank you for the invitation to attend the June 21 forum to discuss the current Emergency Department hours at Princeton General Hospital and to share information on rural health care.
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide clarification regarding one of the topics that arose at the forum, and has been covered subsequently in this paper – The care provided to a Princeton resident who unfortunately suffered a heart attack on June 20. I am glad to hear this individual is on the road to recovery.
When a patient comes to Emergency, the first action by the attending physician is to stabilize the patient before beginning consultations with physicians at other sites in order to determine where the patient may need to receive more specialized care. I would like to assure the community that appropriate medical care was provided at Princeton General and as soon as the patient was stabilized, consultations began among BC Bedline, BC Ambulance Service (BCAS), and physicians in Penticton and Kelowna to determine the patient’s further needs, required care enroute, the appropriate receiving hospital and the method of transport.
Transferring patients with serious medical conditions requires the assistance of skilled medical professionals who can provide care to the patient enroute. In rural communities such as Princeton, paramedics are trained to provide basic life support; however, transferring a patient who has suffered a heart attack requires more specialized care. Interior Health implemented High Acuity Response Teams (HART) for this reason; team members have the necessary advanced training to support these specialized transfers and augment BCAS’s Critical Care Transport Program.
In this particular situation, the BCAS Kamloops-based helicopter was already responding to a critical patient. In consultation with the cardiologist, the Penticton HART team was selected and was on the road within 10 minutes of being assigned the call. Contrary to what was reported, the patient was prepared for transport and in the ambulance back to Penticton within 34 minutes of the HART arrival at Princeton.
I certainly understand that this has been a very emotional time for the resident and his family, as well as causing some concern in the community.
I hope this clarifies for your readers the details about the timing of the deployment of the HART team in this particular instance, as well as the partnerships involved in ensuring patients receive the right care in the right place.
Andrew Neuner, VP Community Integration, Interior Health