I am sure we all remember that about 15 months ago we were told that our 24/7 full ER services would be cut back to weekdays and weekends only. The Town and RDOS held innumerable meetings with IHA (Interior Health Authority), petitions were circulated, signs went up, protests were staged and public meetings were held while IHA simply stated that there was nothing they could do because we did not have the doctors available to provide the service. Throughout all of it the single message I got from constituents was to get full 24/7 ER (Emergency Services) reinstated. At that time the atmosphere with IHA and this community was toxic and progress was nil. It seemed like an exercise in frustration.
In one meeting with local businessmen I well remember an individual simply saying we needed a new approach. He pointed out correctly that IHA was mandated by the province to run our hospital, that they had the money and if we were to be successful we had better work together. It now seems obvious, but sometimes the switch from fighting to communicating is a difficult process! However, over time, not only did we start to make progress we found a group of people as keen as we were to do a good job and provide the best services possible to this community. Many in the community saw what was happening and jumped on board. The local group, Support our Health Care (SOHC), held a number of community meetings, one in particular with Dr. Barbary Pesut, a noted independent UBCO health care researcher. Dr. Pesut was asked to conduct a community consultation to, among other things, make sure that we were aware of exactly what it was the community was looking for in sustainable health care. Forty key individuals from public health, our local ambulance service, community services and other community leaders attended the consultation where their views on Princeton health care were collected. A mass of data was assembled from that consultation and prepared into a report that was presented to the Town, RDOS, IHA and the public.
One suggestion put forward by Dr. Pesut was that IHA bring in a consultant to work with us to help incorporate all the ideas that had been brought forward and to use that to build a framework for a sustainable community health care system that would really work for our community.
The Town, RDOS, IHA, community representatives, our doctors and other health care professionals have worked with this consultant and over the last few months developed a framework that goes beyond what I ever thought was possible. This framework gives us the four doctors that we need to reinstate 24/7 full service ER, it will provide easier access to care, new equipment, capital building improvements, a high level of community involvement and many other benefits to our health care system. I have spent a great deal of time on this framework and am convinced that it is a sound, comprehensive program, precisely what my constituents asked me to work toward.
We expect that the document will be fully reviewed and made publicly available in the next few days not only to our residents but to interested communities throughout the Province. I apologize for the delay and the resulting misinformation being circulated by a few individuals, claiming incorrectly that the Town and RDOS taxation will increase as a result. Hospital operating expenditures are funded entirely through Provincial revenues. Our local municipal taxes will not be increased at all, while our medical services will be greatly improved. I simply ask that you wait a few days until the final document is made available to the public. At that time we invite you to read the document and judge for yourself. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Brad Hope, Director RDOS Area H