Monday, June 8, 2015

Mayor Brain takes to his Facebook page to reassure residents over Northern Health report

An internal report for Northern health
is reviewing the delivery of surgical
services in the Northwest
An internal report at Northern Health regarding surgical services in the Northwest is starting to cause a bit of concern around the community, a situation that has found Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain taking to his Facebook page once again, this time issuing an overview of how he and others in the community have handled the situation to this point.

The story of the report which caught the attention of local residents in recent days, is actually a few weeks old now.

As regular readers of our blog will remember, the first heads up on the issue came on May 28th, when we outlined the nature of a question and answer period at a Health Committee Session at the British Columbia Legislature.

During the course of that session, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice raised the issue of the internal report making it at that point a public matter.

As we  reviewed at that time, Northern Health is currently in receipt of a report that has recommended some changes to the nature of surgical services in the Northwest, with the Terrace hospital it would seem one option to be considered as key, when it comes to a hub approach for a number of services in the region.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
at a Health Committee Session in May,
discussing an internal report
on surgical services in the Northwest

In that Health Committee Session, Ms. Rice made the case for keeping surgical services in place as they are on the North Coast, noting how the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has a large area of service beyond the Prince Rupert City limits.

I just wanted to put on the record that some of the aboriginal communities listed in the rural policy framework that we were just speaking of…. It doesn't even list all the communities within the northwest. 

 The actual catchment area of Prince Rupert is larger than is even documented in the ministry's own records. Again, those constituents that raised the issue of this internal report have expressed strong needs, that they would like the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital to remain as such, a regional hospital providing surgical services. I just wanted to make sure that that was identified here now.

You can review our full overview of the Health Committee session from May here.

The weekly newspaper article of June 3rd, picked up the scent of the story last week, offering up many of the same talking points that we reviewed from Ms. Rice's presentation.

Now that residents are aware of the report, the Mayor caught up with some of the concern in the community, addressing some of the fears through his social media platform over the weekend.

Among some of the main points from his review.

The Mayor noted how "he has known about the report for three months now, adding that a small group of "concerned leaders"  including himself, the Mayor of Port Edward, MP Nathan Cullen, MLA Jennifer Rice members of the Chamber of Commerce Board and Regional First Nations bands joined up to seek clarification on the report.

Deciding as a group, that they would only "go to the public regarding the issue if Northern Health was serious about moving forward with the recommendations"

As well, a meeting was held with Northern Health in late April, where a resolution related to the issues of surgical services was adopted:

"As with all organizations, hiring consultants to make recommendations for cost savings and efficiency is quite common. It's important for residents to note that this was an internal report, and Northern Health at the moment is simply seeing it as a report"

He wraps up his Facebook overview with a call for residents to "trust that your local leaders are handling and monitoring this situation". 

Adding that if Northern Health decides to move forward with the recommendations, that the community will "fight together to ensure that there are no cuts to our hospital"

You can review the Mayor's full information offering here.

It's reassuring to know that the issue has been discussed, though as all of the discussion to this point has taken place through a closed meeting atmosphere without any public notice, it would seem to suggest a we know best kind of approach has been taken to an issue of that would affect a large segment of the community.

Now that the report is clearly a public matter it may be time to have Northern Health officials appear at an Open Session of Prince Rupert council and lay to rest much of the speculation of what may come.

A public session of council, televised and recorded by the media as they are, will offer up an opportunity for all of our local elected officials to ask questions and reinforce for Northern Health of the importance of surgical services at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.

More importantly, it will put Northern Health officials on the record for the community just what the health organizations plans might be.

Facebook and other social media platforms are fine for any number of things when it comes to sharing information. However, when it comes to something as serious as the need to protect health care services, perhaps an approach with a bit more resolve and authority to the issue, might help deliver the message that needs to be delivered.

More background on items from Northern Health can be found on our archive page.

Past items related to Discussion points at City Council can be reviewed on our Discussion page archive.

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