Temporary, abbreviated echocardiography and ultrasound service set up in Nelson, Castlegar
Major gaps in the echocardiography departments in Nelson and Castlegar have temporarily and partially been closed as Interior Health Authority announced Tuesday they have arranged contract services for those facilities.
Interior Health will provide echocardiography service at Kootenay Lake Hospital on a monthly basis from April through September — around five days per month.
"Nelson and area patients will be booked for echocardiography scans in Nelson on days when staffing is available," said an IHA press release. "Additional general ultrasound coverage is also being finalized for Kootenay Lake Hospital to support the services already in place."
In Castlegar, ultrasound service at the Castlegar and District Community Health Centre has resumed immediately. Routine scans will be provided one to three days per week from April to September as staffing permits.
After the ultrasound departments were closed in Nelson and Castlegar in January, people in Nelson and Castlegar have had to go to Trail for service. IH will also increase echocardiography service at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital on a monthly basis to support regional services.
Wages offered by public health care and a worldwide shortage of ultrasound technologists left the IHA wondering in February how to fill the three openings in the Kootenay Lake Hospital echocardiography service.
Staff vacancies and an inability of the IHA to fill the positions forced KLH into a situation where they were unable to provide regular echocardiography (heart ultrasound) services.
As of Feb. 1 people who required echocardiogram scans “as needed” had their appointments booked in at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail when the Nelson service was unavailable.
The last temporary technologist at KLH left in mid February on extended leave, leaving the department without an ultrasound technologist. The department has openings for one permanent technologist and two temporary (part time) ones.
Recruitment to fill staff vacancies in regular echocardiography (heart ultrasound) services is still ongoing, and there remains the potential for further adjustments to services.