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Public meeting to gauge community reaction to loss of ultrasound machine

 A Castlegar town-hall meeting is slated for tomorrow night at the Complex at 7 p.m. to discuss Interior Health's (IH's) plan to take Castlegar's ultrasound machine and move it to Trail.

This, after a closed-door meeting earlier in the day with IH regional representative Allan Sinclair and Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, representatives from RDCK Areas I and J, and Dr. Waldo Yule, along with other Castlegar Hospital Foundation representatives.
 
In an interview today, Yule said he thought the move was politically motivated and offers no benefit to local patients – that, in fact, what's needed is an increase in Castlegar's ultrasound services rather than cutting them.
 
“We put 1,200 patients a year through our ultrasound machine, and that's not counting the overflow that gets sent to Trail – I talked to three people just today who said they were sent to Trail because we're too busy,” he said. “What we need is five days of ultrasound service (instead of the current two days).”
 
He said the reasons IH is giving for the move aren't logical.
 
“They've been gradually moving things away from here, trying to whittle us down and have everything in Trail, for years,” he said. “We have as many people here as Trail does – it makes no sense.”
 
He said the purpose of the town hall meeting is to generate public reaction.
“If we get enough resistance in this community, they'll have to back off,” he said.
 
Meanwhile, Interior Health's ThaliaVesterback, health service director of diagnostic imaging for the Kootenays, said Castlegar residents shouldn't take the change personally, as it is motivated by a bigger-picture view of patient needs throughout the region.
 
“We're offering five-days-a-week ultrasound services in Trail,” she said. “This will allow us to offer seven, which we haven't been able to do before now.
 
“We don't have a sustainable practive in Trail right now,” she said, explaining only two of Trail's three ultrasound machines are operationally adequate, and that optimizing machine and technician time means centralizing ultrasound services in Trail.
 
“Having all three machines and all the technologists in Trail creates a better synergy, and means we can do even more exams in a year,” she said. “We do recognize this is a challenge for patients in Castlegar, who will have to find transportation to Trail, but there are options – there's a Health Connections bus that runs between Nelson, Castlegar and Trail, a Handi-dart bus, volunteer driver programs, and I understand BC Transit just announced increased transit services.”
 
The machine is slated to be moved Oct. 29.