Trail says 'no' to Castlegar-funded examination of acute health care priorities in the region
Trail has chosen to opt out of a process initiated by the City of Castlegar to create a region-wide strategic plan for health care in the region.
Castlegar contracted, at the cost of about $20,000, the services of consultant Jim Gustafson (formerly the CAO of the RDCK and, before that, Castlegar) to gather information from the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District regarding each of 30 jurisdiction’s priorities for future acute health care.
“It’s such a sensitive issue in just about every community, large or small, municipality or regional district. It’s been so controversial, there hasn’t been any serious conversation,” Gustafson said, explaining that he tried to skirt some of the local hurdles to consensus by avoiding issues such as where and how many hospitals we should have, as well as declining to put price tags on any of the region’s acture-care wish-list items. “I came up with three questions to ask each jurisdiction, and asked them to restrict their response to one page or less to create a readable document.”
The three questions are, “1] Does your community support proceeding with multiple studies in partnership with Interior Health to advance acute care planning and potential future capital investments within the region?
2] What are the top three acute care issues in your community?
3] Acknowledging the authority and responsibility of the Regional Hospital Board, what recommendation[s] does your community make to the Hospital Board for their future considerations?”
Gustafson said he hopes to receive replies by March 15, at which point he will compile a five-or six-page strategic plan (attaching the responses as an appendix) to present to the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board, as well as IHA, for its perusal.
He said all of this is in preparation for a $1.5-million study Interior Health Authority will be conducting to determine where, and how, best to invest acute care dollars in the region, and said his first act was to contact the IHA board chair and board president to let them know what he was undertaking.
“The only way this is going to move forward is if the region comes forward and says, ‘Yes, this is what we need,’” Gustafson said, adding this is merely the start of a multi-year process that will involve all the jurisdictions as well as medical experts and consultants. “If you are asking them (IHA) to make a significant planning investment in the region, it’s a lot easier if the hospital district has said, ‘These are our priorities and the bulk of the communities want this.’”
Meanwhile, Trail has decided not to participate in Gustafson’s efforts, declining to provide the page of input requested. Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs said this effort is superfluous.
“That’s a prime responsibility of the IHA. Any issues we have with acute care, we take to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board or to directly to the IHA,” he said, adding both bodies are always cooperative and helpful. “(IHA) has a very extensive planning process in action right now, so this (Gustafson’s consultation) is not needed.”
West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board chair Marguerite Rotvold said the WKBRHB is not undertaking such a study itself because it’s an expensive undertaking and they feel their mandate is to help fund construction and equipment for acute care, not to pinpoint future priorities – but she added she thinks the exercise has value, even without Trail’s participation.
“There will be a benefit to it – everyone, all 30 jurisdictions, have been given the opportunity to participate and put down their acute care priorities to inform IHA. Of course that has value.”