Shoot holes in this idea if that is all it deserves because I willingly admit that I know nothing of the objectives of Interior Health (IH) nor the running of a hospital. However, the recent letter from Dr. Smith would seem to clearly lay out the fundamental reasons why the Princeton General Hospital (PGH) will not see the return of a full functioning Emergency Operating Room.
In many countries of the world our hospital facility would be viewed as a “jewel” of immeasurable value yet IH sees downsizing this asset as the only option under the current policy of centralization of health care. A centralization policy that is reported to require a billion dollars for a completely new hospital facility in Vancouver to replace St. Paul’s and a massive expansion for Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. Facility upgrades that are necessary to accommodate increasing patient numbers, an obvious result of centralization, and that are projected to take at least five years to complete.
At the same time, the waiting lists for various surgeries and medical procedures are unacceptably lengthy (knee replacement and MRI to name two) — a situation that, in many cases and after many years, shows little or no sign of improvement — a situation that is forcing patients to travel out of province or even country for timely treatment.
So, make PGH a “Specialty Hospital” for knee replacements for example. Less than a million dollars would probably cover the upgrades required to the existing ER facility and the recovery rooms. Patients would be willing to travel to Princeton for a long awaited surgery where recovery rooms are available. The whole thing could be up and running in six months and the ER would be available for all doctors to use, not just the knee surgeon.
Attracting a knee surgeon to Princeton is one obvious obstacle. With a hospital “dedicated” to a specific speciality however attracting one and an anesthetist, might be more straightforward. In deed other general practitioners who want the opportunity to use an ER in their practice might also be attracted to PGH thereby solving the doctor shortage issue as well.
Viewing PGH, and other hospitals in the Interior of B.C. for that matter, as assets and not as liabilities could be an expedient and cost effective way of solving a number of the health care issues in the province.