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LETTER: Funding cuts unacceptable to local surgeons

Dear editor, It is with great regret that the department of surgery must submit this letter. We strongly believe that the public has a right to know what is happening to their surgical services at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, Trail. We are a group of highly skilled, specialist surgeons and anaesthetists who have been providing service to the population of the West Kootenay Boundary region and beyond for many years. It is unacceptable that Interior Health now wishes to deny you access to this service by effectively closing 1 / 4 of your operating rooms at KBRH Trail. Of even greater concern to us is the proposed cuts to OR nursing positions. It has taken years to recruit and train this extremely dedicated, compassionate and highly skilled group of professionals who have decided to make KBRH Trail their home. These nurses are a scarce commodity and we are extremely fortunate to have them available 24/7. These valuable nurses are the foundation of our surgical health care team. It is unacceptable that Interior Health no longer values their service. Interior Health will argue that this is about saving more money in a tight budgetary time. Hogwash! The surgical team after consultation with IH has essentially saved the $350 000 they demanded. This was accomplished by carefully avoiding surgery during overtime hours. In addition we have cooperated with IH and extended our holiday closures, only performing emergency surgery during this time. This means of course that you as a patient will wait even longer for your elective operation. Please believe your front line health care workers when they tell you that KBRH has been underfunded for years, it is Interior Health that cannot seem to get their funding priorities right. So if this isn't about the money, what is the motivation behind Interior Health's proposed cuts. This is a good question. The department of surgery believes that these cuts (closing operating rooms and eliminating nursing positions) represents yet another direct reduction to your access to surgical care. We as a department believe that your health has already been impacted before these additional cuts are taken in to consideration. We have met with IH on numerous occasions and frankly they have failed to understand our concerns. We as a department of surgery believe that a critical line has been crossed with the proposed closure of our operating rooms and the associated OR nursing cuts. It is our opinion that a further deterioration in surgical service is entirely avoidable and unnecessary. However if Interior Health chooses to further compromise your surgical care, we believe that we will no longer have the capacity and manpower to safely maintain a quality regional surgical service. Please contact your MLA, and Health Board member and demand no further cuts to surgical care at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, Trail. Sincerely, The surgeons and anasthetists KBRH, Trail Dr.s Seth Bitting, Ron Cameron, David Cook, Anne Dobson, Andre De Greef, George Ferrier, Ian Grant, Kathryn Hale, Michel Hjelkrem, Andrew Lawe, Lee-Anne Laverty, Roy Livingstone, Ken McCaskill, Steve McVicar, Rene-Louis Morency, Todd Owatz, Iain Reid, Andrew Schumacher, Michael Van Gulik