From: Dr. Lorraine Kane
It is great to see our ER department and health care in the news and Interior Health paying attention to these issues. I sincerely hope it lasts beyond the upcoming election. I would like to add a few comments.
The statistics I have seen indicate that the occupancy for those 18 funded beds is actually 18.1 meaning that there are certainly times when several more than 18 are required. “Funded for 18 beds” seems to mean nothing as there is not a specific amount of money attached to each bed. Even with only 18 physical beds, our current staffing of 2 nurses at night would continue to be particularly challenging (9 patients for one nurse) and is part of the reason retaining nurses is difficult.
The working groups that have recently been developed are a result of Dr. Entwistle abandoning his seemingly tireless attempts to work within the IH system to affect change that will stabilize the ER department and secure the highest level of care for local residents. Previous to this he worked closely and evidently unsuccessfully with all levels of administration to draw attention to the problem and achieve solutions and therefore, was our , i.e. the doctors, representative to what should have been a collaborative working group. I am not sure the new working groups have any more chance of success. In my experience, meetings do not equal solutions.
The new ER doctors that have been recruited, by Dr. Entwistle I might add, will help, but will they stay? They are not the first unfamiliar face you may have seen in the department. When they have had a chance to compare the demands and rewards of our department to others, we will likely be recruiting again.
Finally I would like to personally invite Councillor Mo Doerr who wishes local doctors would “step up” to have coffee with me. I will explain the situation behind each and every one of the local doctors who are no longer working in the ER department and how they are supporting other aspects of care in our community. Some have physical issues that are not compatible with the remarkable demands of the work. One is currently the president of the Doctors of BC. One is busy delivering a large percentage of all babies born in the South Okanagan. The local doctors still covering ER are simply forced to limit the time spent in the ER to maintain there own health. While a more equitable payment schedule might attract others to come down and help us, the local doctors are already highly motivated by their commitment to their patients and the community and are truly doing all that they can and have been for years, often to the detriment of their own health and families.
Health care in general, and particularly delivering rural emergency care to an older population with more chronic illnesses, is complex. We are far beyond the ‘just try harder’ type of solutions. Your local doctors are exhausted from yelling into the wind and plugging holes. Solutions are not obvious or easy, but we need help finding them and we need the public to help us gain access to those who can help.
With Dr Peter Entwistle running as an independent, the perfect opportunity to help is now available to us all.