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Rally prompts unanimous vote to preserve Castlegar's ultrasound service

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
November 18th, 2010

 A public rally to oppose an Interior Health (IH) decision to move Castlegar’s ultrasound machine to Trail drew more than 100 people to the Complex Wednesday night, and netted attendees an unanimous vote from the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District.

The district voted unanimously for a resolution supporting continued or increased ultrasound services in Castlegar …the question now becomes whether that resolution will actually carry any weight with decision-makers at IH.
 
District Chair Marguerite Rotvold said the district’s role is purely a financial one, as the body that oversees 40 per cent of funding for the health authority.
 
“We don’t make decisions on operations or management – only on financial matters,” Rotvold said. “Our resolution was to ask IH to reconsider their decision (to move the ultrasound machine), but we don’t have any say in that decision.”
 
Rally organizers said they hope the resolution, along with overwhelming public outcry against the ultrasound move, will create enough political pressue to motivate IH to keep ultrasound services in Castlegar. Public opposition has already moved IH to offer a temporary repreive, promising to keep the machine in Castlegar until at least February 2011, and sparked a public apology from Zeno Cescon, IH director of regional diagnostic services.
 
Proffered at last night’s meeting, Cescon’s apology was for the poor communication around the original decision to move the machine to Trail.
But Rotvold said politics may not, ultimately, end up being the determining factor in whatever final diagnostic configuration IH implements.
 
“IH has many difficulties with ultrasound techs,” she said. “Castlegar isn’t the only location that may be without these services. It’s a region-wide issue, a province-wide issue, a Canada-wide issue.
 
“Part of the problem is people not understanding the importance of a regional specialty centre (like the one in Trail). They have to provide these services 24/7.
“You’re caught – no matter which way you go, someone’s a loser.”
 
That being the case, she said, with a finite number of machines and techs to operate them, the best and only decision may end up seeing the services at the regional specialty centre in Trail, instead of Castlegar.
 
Retired surgeon Dr. Waldo Yule has opposed the IH decision from the outset, and he said he does not concur with this argument.
 
In fact, he said, it doesn’t make sense to load up the regional specialty centre with routine exams that could be done as easily, and more efficiently, in Castlegar.
 
Yule said last night’s vote is a very important one, despite the the district’s inability to outright order IH to reconsider.
 
“The district has a lot of people; elected representatives from all across the region, from Nakusp to Midway,” Yule said. “That they voted unanimously sends a strong, clear message to IH that the whole region thinks they’re wrong.”
 
He allowed that the vote alone isn’t enough, though – Yule said he thinks IH is planning to wait the commmunity out, and move the machine when the public has lost interest.
 
“If we don’t keep the pressure on, they’ll move it,” he said. “They think we’ll go away if they stall long enough.”
 
That’s not in the cards, though, he said – the committee organizing the rallies and protests will meet again soon to determine what their next step should be.
 
“There WILL be a next step,” he said.

 

Categories: HealthPolitics

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