COW ELECTION 2014

LIVE CAM HWY 97 @ WESTSIDE RD

CHBC TV News

Carr's Landing

Joe Rich Community

Trepanier

Kelowna Capital News
Issuu

Kelowna Daily Courier

Penticton Herald

Penticton Western

Summerland Review

Sumrlnd.myezrock

Vernon Morning Star
Issuu

Vernon Daily Courier

Castanet.net

Bennett Bridge Cam

Interior Highway Cams

Kelowna Airport

Regional District of Central Okanagan

RDCO's Facebook

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

District of Lake Country

District of Peachland

City of Penticton

District of Summerland

City of Vernon

District of West Kelowna

--------


Kelowna's Best Rock

RDCO Board Calender
RDCO Meeting Schedule

RDCO Board Reports

RDCO Board Agenda

RDCO Board Minutes

Gov Service Agenda

Gov Service Minutes

NWCA Minutes

SILGA - Board

UBCM

RDCO GIS Map

For sprinkling and watering days, click here.

-------

Westside Rd. Maps

C.O.W. Links

NW Ratepayers

Edgson News

NWCA

Westside Rd Interchange

Westside Road Updates

Westside Rd COMPLAINT FORM

Westside Residents Association

Jobs in Vernon

Jobs in Kelowna

Report Email Spam here.

Report Bad Links Here

Food Action Society

JOKES

WolframAlpha
Calculator/Answers

WikiLeaks.org

Datadotgc.ca

OpenDataBC

ProactiveDisclosure

BCGov FOI form

BC Forest Fire Info
Twitter
Facebook

BC Wildfires of Note
EmergencyInfoGovBC
Sound Cloud

Scan BC

Kelowna Yacht Club Wind Direction/Speed

MissingKids.ca

Follow okanaganlakebc.ca on Twitter

Follow OkanaganLakeBC on Twitter

okanagan lake directory, waterfront vacation rentals, local businesses, shopping, vernon, kelowna, westbank, westside, winfield, kaleden, oyama, peachland, penticton, summerland, naramata

BC Health Care

Comment Form

LAST UPDATE March 27, 2018

Click on your refresh button in the top menu, to be sure you see any updates.

Blue Divider Line

Can you believe that in this day and age in Canada that we have a health care problem?  We thought that was only a problem in poor countries.  Canada is one of the richest countries, so why is health care funding a problem here?  It really is hard to fathom in this day and age!

Make a comment using our "BC healthcare system" comment form below.

okanaganlakebc.ca suggests that everyone who uses Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Armstrong doctors withhold 3 months worth of Medical Services premiums from the BC government and instead pay it towards VJH beds and an Armstrong doctors clinic.

After all the BC government does have $10 million to dredge Burnaby Lake!

You know where their priorities are don't you!!  Lets dredge the lake and leave these poor people in the hospital hallway.  Wake up people, we all need to change in order for this genocide to end.

Blue Divider Line

Blue Divider Line

B.C. hospitals fail to meet rights of mentally ill patients admitted involuntarily
Kelowna Capital News - Mar. 7, 2019 by Ashley Wadhwani

Ombudsperson’s report says legal documents only completed in 28 per cent of cases

Hospitals are denying the legal rights of mentally ill patients involuntarily admitted to psychiatric facilities across the province, according to an investigation by the BC Ombudsperson.

The report, released Thursday by Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, looked at admission records of every involuntary admission in the province that took place in June 2017. Roughly 1,450 cases were reviewed.

Often missing from case files were legally required documents such as ones that outline why a person was involuntary detained, the description of treatment, and confirmation the patient was told their rights.

All required forms were found completed in 28 per cent of the admission files reviewed. Vancouver Coastal Health, Northern Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority had the lowest overall compliance rates.

In some cases, facilities used “standard rubber stamps” to authorize treatment for a patient, instead of describing the specific treatment, the report said. In other cases, physicians didn’t include which criteria the person met to be involuntarily admitted in the first place. Some forms lacked the necessary signatures or dates.

The legal rights of mentally ill patients involuntarily admitted to psychiatric facilities across the province are being denied, a new report by the BC Ombudsperson says. Report says hospitals failed to comply with the legal documentation required. @BlackPressMedia #Bcpoli

Chalke said in a news release this kind of response to help mentally ill patients is a last resort for people who are at risk of harming themselves or others.

“Involuntary detention and treatment is the most intrusive form of mental health care available,” he said. “This is a failure to comply with the Mental Health Act, the law that allows people who are gravely ill – our friends, daughters, sons, parents and grandparents – to receive timely treatment while protecting their legal rights.”

The report highlights several personal cases, including one woman who was held in a seclusion room without being told she had been involuntarily admitted. She was not told why nor was she notified of her rights, the report said, and when she requested a copy of her file after she was discharged, she found no form notifying her of her legal rights.

Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the Fraser Health Authority violated a woman’s Charter rights by detaining her against her will for almost a year and denying her access to a lawyer.

The woman was placed in mechanical restraints, denied access to visitors and the use of a phone or internet, and was prohibited from leaving the facility for fresh air. Fraser Health had failed to tell her why she was being detained.

“Going through experiences like this is stressful enough,” Chalke said. “This lack of compliance with legal requirements naturally raises many questions for patients and their families.

“Without documentary evidence, reasons for detention and treatment as well as awareness of how to question decisions can be extremely unclear. Public confidence in the system at large is also put into doubt.”

Chalke’s report says the Ministry of Health and health authorities failed to adequately monitor, audit and address designated facilities’ compliance with legal forms.

The report makes 24 recommendations, including increasing oversight and accountability, improving training for staff to know what forms are required, and developing an independent rights advisor to advise patients.

Black Press Media has reached out for comment from the Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy, who is expected to make a statement this afternoon.

Source: Kelowna Capital News https://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/b-c-hospitals-fail-to-meet-rights-of-mentally-ill-patients-admitted-involuntarily-report/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&fbclid=IwAR0xEkjWBEmb3Pyfn60A7ZWjos6_oNEYSSIK-1rLli_r4fs8sYD3Q70zc_k

BC Ombudsman's Report on the BC Ombudsman's website

down arrow

Committed to Change: Protecting the Rights of Involuntary Patients under the Mental Health Act
March 7, 2019

Full Report / Infographic / March 2019 News Release

Ministry of Heath, Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, Health Authorities: Fraser, Interior, North, Vancouver Coastal, Vancouver Island

Special Report No. 42

The report makes 20 findings highlighting the lack of compliance with the legal documentation required on involuntary admission to designated psychiatric facilities in the province. The report finds legally required admission documents were missing, late or improperly completed including forms outlining reasons for detention, consent and description of treatment, notification of a patient’s rights and notification to relatives. In some cases facilities used standard rubber stamps to generally authorize treatment for individual patients instead of describing the specific treatment proposed for that patient. In other cases, physicians failed to explain why a person met the criteria for involuntary admission yet the patient was nonetheless admitted. Some forms lacked the necessary signatures or dates.

The report’s findings were based on an investigation that reviewed admission records of every involuntary admission in the province that took place in June 2017. A detailed analysis of mandatory admission forms found that across the province, all of the required forms were was completed in only 28% of involuntary patient admissions. Vancouver Coastal Health, Northern Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority had the lowest overall compliance rates. Additional findings include:

A number of directors of designated facilities admitted and detained people involuntarily without adequate information and reasons to demonstrate how the patient met the criteria for admission.
There was no consent for treatment form in 24% of patient admissions across all health authorities. There was a wide variation among hospitals in the issuance of the consent to treatment form with a low of 9% compliance at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia.

A number of directors of facilities acted contrary to section 8 of the Mental Health Act in permitting the psychiatric treatment of involuntarily detained patients in circumstances where the patient objected to treatment and no Consent for Treatment form was completed.

There was no rights advice form for more than half of the involuntary patients. This form advises the patient of their legal rights including how to get legal advice and challenge their detention.

The Ministry of Health and the health authorities acted unreasonably in failing to adequately monitor, audit and address designated facilities’ compliance with the involuntary admission procedures under the Mental Health Act.

The report makes 24 recommendations, all of which have been accepted in principle by government and health authorities and focus on three key areas:

Increasing oversight and accountability by conducting regular compliance audits, setting 100 percent compliance targets and increasing public reporting about involuntary admissions.

Training staff and physicians regarding the necessity of form completion and the codification of standards for compliance with the Mental Health Act.
Third and most importantly, the Ministry of Attorney General has committed in principle to develop an independent rights advisor service that would work in designated facilities in the province and provide advice to patients about the circumstances of their detention and their options if they disagree with the detention or a related decision.

Source: https://bcombudsperson.ca/documents/committed-change-protecting-rights-involuntary-patients-under-mental-health-act

Blue Divider Line

Worried for her brother
Castanet.net - Oct 2, 2018 | Story: 238091

Something needs to be done about our health-care system.

This is the type of care my brother has been provided at Kelowna General Hospital:

They injected him full of opioids and hundreds of painkillers to keep him comfortable for two weeks while he awaited surgery because of a loss of feeling in his legs due to a herniated disc in his back.

Sadly, he’s been misdiagnosed with Crohn's disease, which nearly killed him due to having a dangerously low level of hemoglobin and severe anemia that resulted in numerous blood transfusions and antibiotics to get it under control while was lied to about it for almost two years, when he could of had treatment when symptoms showed up in a biopsy he had done almost 18 months ago.

If that isn’t bad enough, he needed his IV replaced, so the nurse tried nine times with no luck. Six of them in the same spot, blowing his poor vein apart.

This is just scratching the surface of events that went on there. I’m really worrried about my brother's safety and care, and now they’re about to operate on his spine.

He desperately needs the surgery or he may never walk again. I am worried sick to my stomach.

Mindy Wood

Source: https://www.castanet.net/news/Letters/238091/Worried-for-her-brother

Blue Divider Line

Stevia Kills Lyme Disease Pathogen Better Than Antibiotics, Study Confirms
HealthSpirtBody.com - June 11, 2017

With summer upon us the risk of encountering ticks, the pesky critters responsible for the spread of Lyme disease is on the rise.

Lyme disease is an insidious and complicated disease to treat, both for the allopathic medical world and alternative medical practitioners, due to its rapid shape-shifting abilities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 300,000 people have diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States alone. While ticks exist in half of all US counties, Lyme disease cases are concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 states accounting for over 96% of cases reported to CDC.

The CDC says that while 80-90% of reported cases are considered resolved with the treatment of antibiotics, 10-20% of patients go on to develop the chronic form, which is a persistent and sometimes devastating illness that can harm any organ of the body, including the brain and the nervous system.

The culprit behind Lyme disease is Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterial infection proven to respond most effectively to antibiotics doxycycline and amoxicillin.

However, Borrelia burgdorferi can exist in morphological forms, including spirochetes, spheroplast (or L-form), round bodies, and biofilms. When conditions are considered unfavourable for the bacteria, it has the ability to morph into the dormant round body, then hide in a biofilm form. When conditions are favourable, however, it can shift back to its spirochete form.

While conventional antibiotics can treat some forms of the disease, they’re not effective in treating ALL forms, often times failing to produce a long-term cure.

But, new research suggests a long-term treatment may be just around the corner.

A recent study published in the European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology revealed that stevia, a sweetener, and sugar substitute, has been found to terminate late state or chronic Lyme disease.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Department of Biology and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut, found that stevia whole leaf extract, as an individual agent, was an effective treatment against all known morphological forms of B. burgdorferi.

For the study, researchers examined the antimicrobial effect of four stevia leaf extracts in comparison to individual antibiotics (doxycycline, cefoperazone, daptomycin), as well as a combination of the three.

Lab tests revealed that while one extract was more potent than the others, likely due to its growing conditions and the agricultural practices utilized, all extracts were effective in treating all forms of the bacteria.

In fact, the stevia extract was proven to work against even the most antibiotic-resistant of the bacteria, known as the biofilm. The individual antibiotics, on the other hand, actually increased the biofilm.

While researchers acknowledge that the results need more investigation and clinical trials to corroborate the finding, they’re hoping these results indicate we’re one step closer to finding an effective treatment for even the most persistent forms of Lyme disease.

Source: https://www.healthspiritbody.com/lyme-disease-treatment/

Blue Divider Line

Yelling and swearing helps to relieve stress.

Letter: Believe in the power of positive music
by Kelowna Capital News - Feb 16, 2017

To the editor:

When you are down or just needing a very solid pick me up…always believe, and with an open heart, in the complete positive power of music.

And openly believe in what really good music can truly mean and deliver to you in your time of need. Good music by way of your choice is yours to own and keep in your heart and do not let anyone tell you differently.

Whether you just lost your job, whether you just lost your long-standing relationship or a sad family loss, which are all super downers of course, please try and look to the positive power of music for that much needed pick me up.

Music has that super magical power to help heal in your utter time of need.

But please, please, choose songs wisely and don’t choose some super depressing song as that can have the most opposite effect on you and others, please know.

Please let positive uplifting music, and all the magic it will bring, help guide you and give you some much needed faith/hope or a super solid feeling of strength, depending on your beliefs of course.

Please trust me, I know.

Sadness has really tried to bring me down multiple times on many selfish uncaring people of my past yet I sit right here writing this to try and help others on what I have found to know in my heart…that very positive feeling of good solid music and what that unconditional feeling brings to help me and others.

N. Preen, Kelowna

Source: http://www.kelownacapnews.com/opinion/letters/413915403.html

Blue Divider Line

The cure for mental illness?
Castanet.net - Jon Manchester - Feb 19, 2017 / 5:00 am | Story: 189165

What actually causes mental health problems?

A Kelowna psychologist believes most Canadians are misinformed.

Two years ago, there were 47 million prescriptions for anti-depressant pills filled in Canada, says Dr. Eric Kuelker. That's enough for every man, woman and child in the country – as well as every dog and cat.

But are they taking these pills from a false belief? Kuelker believes so.

One common medication for depression results in twice as many people relapsing back into depression, compared to if they received a placebo. The treatment ends up making people worse than if they had nothing, he claims.

“The same factor kept on coming up across all areas of mental health. Massive studies in the U.S., Canada, and 22 other countries pointed to the same core cause,” he said.

That factor is psychological injury from traumatic or stressful events.

“If people know what causes mental health problems, then they can take control over their own lives” Kuelker said. “The public knows what has the biggest influence on our physical health. They know that exercise, diet, non-smoking, and modest use of alcohol will have a very positive effect on their physical health. But there are so many myths about what causes mental health problems that they do not know what to do.”

Kuelker is giving a free talk on the subject, Monday, 7 p.m. at the downtown Kelowna branch of Okanagan Regional Library, at which he will describe the three types of events that can cause such trauma and their treatments.

“Knowledge is power,” he said.

Source: http://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/189165/The-cure-for-mental-illness

Blue Divider Line

Got an email from Change.org with this info.  Not sure how accurate this info is, but thought the info could be investigated.  This is surely an interesting comment about our Healthcare System.

* Canada is the only country in the world that prides itself on universal healthcare, yet contradictorily does not have universal medication access. Canada has 19 publicly funded drug plans and over 1000 private insurance programs: a fragmented, non-equitable patchwork that leaves many uncovered. We spend 30% more on drugs than nations with Universal Pharmacare programs!
* Canadians spend more than $700 US per capita for prescription, non-prescription, and personal health supplies, whereas the average per capita expenditure for OECD countries is $500.
* In a recent Angus Reid Institute national survey nearly 1 in 4 Canadians did not take a prescribed medicine because she/he could not afford it. Food and shelter costs undermine medication costs when it comes to day-to-day survival. Inadequately treated chronic disease inevitably decompensates. Hospital admission for acute disease management then culminates in hefty inpatient costs.
* Our generic drug prices are dependent on patented drug prices, established as the median of seven comparator OECD nations. This list includes the four places in the globe where drugs are most expensive.
* Prices for the same medicines vary depending on province or territory of residence. In order to make drug prices more appealing to provincial and territorial governments, pharmaceutical companies artificially inflate prices to present the government with a “discount price,” whilst channeling the cost burden to third party insurers (10% higher costs compared to government costs) and most significantly to out of pocket purchasers, many of whom are the working poor.
* Take the price of the common cholesterol medication, atorvastatin, which is cheapest in Ontario and costs 31 cents. Compare this to that same pill in New Zealand, which costs 2.6 cents!

Source:  https://www.change.org/p/dr-jane-philpott-it-is-time-to-make-universal-medicare-universal-calling-for-a-national-pharmacare-strategy?utm_source=action_alert_sign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=704990&alert_id=ZrfnPzaXqg_CaLrTqnKNoFG4TBYSk%2F%2FPk%2Bv869mfE3L%2Bri6C%2B1MPQo%3D

Blue Divider Line

Sick and suffering B.C. residents choosing physician assisted death
by Kathy Michaels - Kelowna Capital News - Oct 4, 2016

More than 60 British Columbians have chosen physician assisted deaths since June. — Image Credit: Contributed

Sick and suffering British Columbians have already started choosing when they will die.

Since legislation took effect in June, there have been 62 cases of physician assisted deaths throughout the province, said Barb McLintock, with the B.C. Coroner's Service. Figures specific to regions have yet to become available.

Dr. Harsh Hundal, who was speaking with Interior Health board members on assisted dying protocols in Kelowna Tuesday morning, said health practitioners through the region have been fielding an increasing number of inquiries.

"What has happened is that people have been thinking about this but it didn't seem real until the June 17 legislation passed," Hundal said.

Now that they're speaking about it more, it's becoming less taboo. As an example, Hundal said he overheard one elderly woman telling her friend she was looking into assisted dying options, and the friend responded with a "you go, girl."

"This is the conversation, 'how do you want to die?'" he said.

"I'm glad we're having the discussion. We need to talk about dying and palliation…(what is chosen) depends on the individual and how they look at their life, or more importantly or how they look at their death."

Although the topic is becoming less taboo, it's still closely monitored and available to only a limited population — people suffering from psychological maladies and those under the age of 18 are still not part of the program, although a task force will be struck in December to examine that more closely.

And those who have been making the request to have a physician help with their end of life options are facing down a potentially horrific death.

"It is generally people who have cancer and people with neurological conditions such as MS or ALS and are seeing a decline in their lives are losing capacity to control their environment," said Hundal.

And, while the general population is adjusting quickly to the changes in legislation the medical community is a bit slower on the uptake.

Hundal pointed out to board members that most doctors never considered assisted dying when they were going through school or even since they've been in practice.

Doing so is a cultural shift.

"It takes time," he said. "I think in medicine, we tend to be very conservative, it takes us time to work our way through it. Society is ahead of healthcare and people are pushing this change."

They've had lots of places to look to for an example. But the method used in Canada is most similar to that used in Belgium and the Netherlands, which has more safeguards in place.

That model essentially has more safeguards in place and ensures that a patient is followed by a physician throughout the process.

Once it gets underway, there's a 10 day "period of reflection" and a person can choose to go back on their decision at any point along the way.

If, however, they lose their the ability to make that choice along the way, the process grinds to a halt.

Source: http://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/395897021.html

Blue Divider Line

Lyme Disease Conference Update
July 13, 2016

Dear friends and supporters,

I wanted to keep you updated on developments related to the Lyme Disease Conference that took place in Ottawa in May of this year (2016) following the passage of my Private Member’s Bill C-442. The expert presentations from that conference are now available online in both official languages. You can access them here.

We will continue to share developments as they occur, including details about the Federal Framework to be created out of the work done by patients and experts at the Conference.

Best,

Elizabeth May, OC
Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Source: http://www.slideshare.net/LymeDiseaseConferencePresentations/presentations

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon April 25, 2016 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

6. DELEGATION
6.1 Emily MacNair, Program Manager - Okanagan Regional Adaptation Strategies Update [All Directors - Unweighted Vote - LGA 208(1)]
Staff report dated April 18, 2016 outlined the BC Agriculture Council’s Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative which addresses agricultural challenges associated with climate Change.
Emily MacNair provided an overview of a new initiative in the Okanagan.
- BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative formulated in 2008.
- Advisory Committee is made up of producers, processors and government. Six regional plan just being completed in the province.
- A regional focused program started in 2013 - Regional Adaptation Enhancement Program. The strategies plan is to be completed in May 2016. The Plan evaluates climate change impacts and develops strategies, actions and priorities. 15 strategies and 27 actions items have been identified.
- Priority impact areas include: warmer/drier summer conditions; changing pest populations; increase in extreme precipitation events; and increasing wildfire risk.
-FORTIN/OPHUS
THAT the presentation by Emily MacNair on the Okanagan Regional Adaptation Strategies be received for information.
CARRIED Unanimously

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio April 25, 2016 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (189 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 25, 2016 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about 6.1 Emily MacNair, Program Manager - Okanagan Regional Adaptation Strategies Update - .wma (13 MB)

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon January 14, 2016 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Age-friendly Recreational Access Project

The Regional Board has received a letter from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) advising a grant has been approved under the 2016 Age-friendly Community Planning and Projects program. The $20,000 grant will be used to manage and promote hiking and walking opportunities for all residents in the Regional Park system.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 14, 2016 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (415 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files January 14, 2016 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Union Of BC Municipalities 2016 Age Friendly Community Planning And Projects Program Grant - .wma (258 KB)

.pdf icon January 14, 2016 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Item 5.1 Union Of BC Municipalities 2016 Age Friendly Community Planning And Projects Program Grant

*Note* Below is only a snippet, please click link above for entire content

Dear Chair and Board,

Thank you for submitting an application for the 2016 Age-friendly Community Planning & Projects grant program funded through the Seniors' Housing & Support Initiative.

I am pleased to inform you that the Evaluation Committee has approved funding for your project, Regional Park Age-friendly Recreational Access Project, in the amount of $20,000.00.

A cheque in the amount of $14,000.00 will follow shortly under separate cover. This amount represents 70 percent of the total approved grant. The remaining 30 percent will be available after a satisfactory final report and financial summary has been submitted to UBCM.

The Ministry of Health has provided funding for this program and the general Terms & Conditions for this grant are attached. In addition, in order to satisfy the terms of the contribution agreement, we have the
following requirements:
(1) The funding is to be used solely for the purpose of the above named project and for the expenses itemized in the budget that was approved as part of your application;
(2) All project activities must be completed within 12 months and no later than December 31, 2016; .
(3) The final report form is required to be submitted to UBCM within 30 days of project completion and no later than January 27, 2017;
(4) Any unused funds must be returned to UBCM within 30 days following the project end date.

We would like to encourage all grant recipients to utilize the age-friendly guides as part of their projects. Becoming an Age-friendly Community; Local Government Guide, the Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide and Age-Friendly

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 14, 2016 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (415 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files January 14, 2016 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Union Of BC Municipalities 2016 Age Friendly Community Planning And Projects Program Grant - .wma (258 KB)

.pdf icon January 14, 2016 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

5. CORRESPONDENCE

5.1 Union of BC Municipalities - 2016 Age-Friendly Community Planning & Projects Program - Grant Approved (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)

SIEBEN/STACK
THAT the Union of BC Municipalities correspondence of December 7,2015 regarding approval of the 2016 Age-Friendly Community Planning & Projects Program Grant Application - Regional Park Age-friendly Recreational Access Project in the amount of $20,000 be received for information.

CARRIED Unanimously

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 14, 2016 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (415 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files January 14, 2016 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Union Of BC Municipalities 2016 Age Friendly Community Planning And Projects Program Grant - .wma (258 KB)

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon October 26, 2015 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

This was a Director Item so there was nothing mentioned in the Highlights about the new Interior Heart & Surgical Centre

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 26, 2015 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (385 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 26, 2015 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Interior Heart & Surgical Centre - .wma (689 KB)

.pdf icon October 26, 2015 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon This was a Director Item so there was nothing mentioned in the Agenda about the new Interior Heart & Surgical Centre

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 26, 2015 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (385 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 26, 2015 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Interior Heart & Surgical Centre - .wma (689 KB)

.pdf icon October 26, 2015 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

10. DIRECTOR ITEMS (information items)

• The Interior Heart & Surgical Centre has officially been opened. The Regional Hospital District's financial contribution to the project was well represented.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 26, 2015 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (385 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 26, 2015 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Interior Heart & Surgical Centre - .wma (689 KB)

Blue Divider Line

This came by email, so there is no link:

Update on the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease
December 17, 2015

Dear friends,

I want to update those of you who have been following the progress of my 2014 private members’ bill C-442, An Act Respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease. The bill was passed unanimously by the House of Commons and the Senate, and received Royal Assent one year ago. Bill C-442 mandated that a conference of ministers, members of the medical community, and patients’ groups be convened by December 16, 2015.

Yesterday, Health Minister Jane Philpott released a statement with details about the Lyme Disease Conference. It will be held between May 17 and 19, 2016. The Public Health Agency is working with the co-chairs, from CanLyme and the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada (AMMI), to strike a Planning Committee for the conference.

For more information, you can visit canada.ca/lymedisease. If you have any questions about the Lyme Disease Conference, please contact Health Canada by e-mail (maladie_lyme_disease "at" phac-aspc.gc.ca).

I want to thank each of you for your support for the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease. Together, we are making progress for so many individuals and families who have been affected by Lyme Disease.

Thank you again for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon September 28, 2015 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

There was nothing mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item, Director Hanson stating there was 66 units of blood collected at the blood donor clinic as this was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio September 28, 2015 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (137 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files September 28, 2015 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item, Director Hanson stating there was 66 units of blood collected at the blood donor clinic - .wma (226 KB)

.pdf icon September 28, 2015 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon There was nothing mentioned in the Agenda about Director Item, Director Hanson stating there was 66 units of blood collected at the blood donor clinic as this was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio September 28, 2015 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (137 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files September 28, 2015 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item, Director Hanson stating there was 66 units of blood collected at the blood donor clinic - .wma (226 KB)

.pdf icon September 28, 2015 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

There was nothing mentioned in the Minutes about Director Item, Director Hanson stating there was 66 units of blood collected at the blood donor clinic.  Not sure why this was not mentioned in the Minutes when other Director Items were mentioned in the minutes.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio September 28, 2015 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (137 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files September 28, 2015 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item, Director Hanson stating there was 66 units of blood collected at the blood donor clinic - .wma (226 KB)

Blue Divider Line

Bring your pet to hospital
Castanet.net - The Canadian Press - Nov 25, 2015 | Story: 152585

Patients at a Hamilton hospital can now easily spend time with their pets thanks to a unique initiative that was prompted by a local woman's promise to her dying nephew.

The program — Zachary's Paws for Healing — was launched by Donna Jenkins and is named after her nephew, who died last year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Zachary Noble longed for a visit from his dog while he was in the Juravinski Hospital and was allowed one with the help of his medical team. Before he died, Noble made his aunt, who was his caregiver, promise that she'd work with the hospital to establish a program for companion pet visits with patients.

"If it wasn't for the insight of that young man who was 25 years old and autistic to empathize with the other patients around him, this may have never happened," Jenkins told The Canadian Press. "It's so good to know that we're bringing some comfort and some joy."

Many hospitals, including Juravinski, already have policies on pet visits but the requirements to make them happen are so arduous for families and medical staff that they often aren't pursued, said Jenkins. That's where her organization comes in.

"It's too cumbersome in order to meet all the infectious control procedures and get all the legal paperwork signed ... our organization realized that," said the 64-year-old. "We do all the leg work, we do all the paperwork, we do all the contacting for the families."

After her nephew's death, Jenkins worked with a committee at the Juravinski Hospital to develop the program. It launched in September, initially only providing pet visits to patients in certain intensive and long-term care units. Two weeks ago, however, the program expanded to the entire hospital.

"They were willing to be the first hospital in Canada to offer this type of specialized patient-pet visitation program because they realized how important it is to their patients," Jenkins said.

The program is currently limited to dogs and cats, but could expand to include other animals. Patients are allowed weekly visits from their pets, who are transported in a large, covered rolling crate accompanied by a volunteer. Urgent end-of-life visits are available for those who want to see their pets one last time.

The program also offers to foster pets for patients who aren't able to find caregivers for their animals while in hospital, said Jenkins, recalling a case where a man once refused a stem cell transplant because he hadn't been able to find someone to care for his pet.

While the program has only been running for three months, Jenkins said she hopes it can grow.

"It would be my hope that every hospital in Canada would have this opportunity for its patients," said Jenkins, whose organization is putting together a kit to help other hospitals develop similar programs.

For the Juravinski Hospital, Zachary's Paws for Healing has had a significant impact on patient spirits.

"It allows our patients and families to have their own pet visit them during a very difficult time in their lives," said Karen Robinson, the hospital's clinical manager of oncology. "It's helped them remember how important it is to get home."

Robinson, whose unit was among the first to try the program, said patients have been "very appreciative" of the service, which has removed a great burden from medical staff, who were previously the ones responsible for ensuring any visiting pets met safety requirements.

"We really have a lot of increased visits because Zachary's Paws orchestrates the entire thing," she said. "It's wonderful for the staff knowing that the patients are really pleased and it's wonderful for the patients and families."

Source: http://www.castanet.net/news/Canada/152585/Bring-your-pet-to-hospital

Blue Divider Line

Interior Health and seniors
Castanet.net - Contributed - Nov 24, 2015 | Story: 152534

I just got off the telephone with a gentleman of eighty years of age. He lives alone. He is due to have a hip replacement. This man has had a heart attack, a stroke, is diabetic and has severe arthritis, particularly in his hands. The man is in agony. Yet, because Interior Health has deemed this "elective" surgery, he is getting practically no help at all.

He is actually expected to inject himself with needles after the operation. A young nurse at Interior Health humiliated him in front of a crowded patient’s office by telling him that ninety-five year old women can do it themselves. They are going to throw this man out of hospital as soon as they can, and he has no place to go. Interior Health has apparently cancelled rehab at Cottonwoods. Maybe the new offices on Doyle have soaked up all their money. How is this man expected to take care of himself when he can hardly move? He’s had to buy many supplies and is expected to buy even more immediately when he is released. How can he do this when he cannot move? Is the Minister of Health, Terry Lake, asleep on the job? It seems that Interior Health does not care one jot about senior citizens, and Christy Clark doesn’t seem to care either. Seniors are only good for this government come voting time. It is high time things change.

Seniors have to take up the clarion call that we are not to be stepped on by a government that doesn’t care, that is deliberately trying to starve national health in favour of private American healthcare. God forbid if that happens. We will all be dropping dead on the streets. I’ve seen it happen in the USA, and, guess what? They will let you. Wake up, editor and tell the truth about what is happening. Help seniors and stop this rot that is destroying Interior Health and the Canadian health system right here in Kelowna.

Sincerely,
Laurence D. M. Marshall

Source: http://www.castanet.net/news/Letters/152534/Interior-Health-and-seniors

Blue Divider Line

Medical marijuana use at work poses challenges for employers: experts
ctvnews.ca - The Canadian Press - September 19, 2015

TORONTO -- As medical marijuana gains traction as a treatment option for a host of conditions including chronic pain and other conditions, Canadian employers could find themselves grappling with a sticky issue.

"Individuals have the right to equal treatment ... without discrimination on the grounds of disability," says Jan Robinson, managing principal at human resources firm Morneau Shepell.

"Medical cannabis now needs to be viewed like every other doctor-prescribed drug."

But although employers have a duty to accommodate workers' medical conditions, experts say that duty must be balanced with the need to keep the workplace safe. That can be challenging, especially if employees perform duties such as operating machinery.

"There's no hard or fast rule to this," says Natalie MacDonald, an employment lawyer and the co-founder of Rudner MacDonald LLP. "It's got to be determined on a case-by-case basis -- as most things in employment law do."

Experts says the duty to accommodate comes with an important caveat -- it must not result in undue hardship for the employer.
While there is no strict definition of what constitutes undue hardship, MacDonald says the courts will consider a number of factors including how much financial difficulty the company would endure and whether accommodating the employee would compromise workplace safety.

"A small organization that has to incur serious financial hardship as a result of trying to accommodate an employee may cross the test of undue hardship," MacDonald said.

A recent decision issued by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal illustrates some of the limits that apply to the employer's responsibility to accommodate workers' needs.

The Tribunal ruled in July that B.C.-based Selkin Logging did not violate John French's human rights by refusing to allow the logging contractor to use marijuana while on the job.

The company, which has a "zero tolerance" policy on marijuana use, had argued that it did not discriminate against French based on his use of cannabis to handle the symptoms of cancer, but rather was concerned about safety.

In addition, French was not authorized by Health Canada to possess medical marijuana, although he claimed he was using the drug to ease cancer-related pain as per his doctors' recommendations, according to court documents.

MacDonald says that if French had proper medical documentation, the outcome of the case may have been different. However, safety concerns still need to be taken into account, she adds.

One alternative way to accommodate a worker's needs would be to provide the worker with a leave of absence until the medical issue is resolved, MacDonald said.
"In some cases, it may be that the employee needs to be provided with alternative forms of work that don't attract any particular safety concerns," MacDonald said.

As cannabis becomes a more popular treatment choice -- Health Canada has estimated there could be nearly half a million users by 2024 -- the issue is likely to start cropping up at workplaces across the country.

"We are starting to recognize that this trend will commence very shortly across Canada," said Robinson, noting that Morneau Shepell has been advising its clients to review their existing drug and alcohol policies to ensure they are adequate.

"If they don't look at their drug policies now, they may have issues in the future," she said.

Source:  http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/medical-marijuana-use-at-work-poses-challenges-for-employers-experts-1.2571128

Blue Divider Line

A response
Vernon Morning Star - Opinions - Sep 9, 2015

David Lukey is only repeating what he has read or has been told from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

The tick infection rate in B.C. in the ixodes ticks that transmit lyme disease is many times that which the B.C. CDC reports by using its mathematical miscalculations. Using its own data and correcting the mathematical reporting yields a much higher infection rate within the tick population.

The B.C. CDC testing is limited to only confirming one strain of one species of borrelia bacteria that cause lyme disease.

A negative B.C. test for lyme tells the patient and the doctor nothing about whether the person does or does not have lyme disease and to state otherwise is irresponsible. An abundance of science supports that fact.

We have many strains of borrelia that are human pathogens. Therefore, lyme disease is a borreliosis caused by many strains.

B.C. CDC has no idea whatsoever of how many people have lyme disease. If that is not the case, then it must sit down with us at the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation and our science/medical experts to explain its position. To date, it has refused any discussion where it would have to defend its position in a scientifically ethical and academic fashion.

To imply that because other medical bodies use the poor test, that it somehow validates the test, is wrong. It is the same group of people under many titles and they have far too many conflicts of interest and vested interest in their poor testing model to change anything.

All of the science says the test is terrible, and it was never designed as a human diagnostic protocol. It was designed as a surveillance protocol only, so it did not have to be that accurate.

David, if you wish to discuss this, I am more than happy to address this with and you can reach me by going to the contact page at www.canlyme.com

Jim Wilson, president
Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

Source: http://www.vernonmorningstar.com/opinion/325647301.html

Blue Divider Line

WFN to buy back mortgage
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore | Story: 145778 - Aug 11, 2015

UPDATE 9 P.M.

Westbank First Nation members have voted to authorize chief and council to borrow up to $8,050,000 to buy back lands set aside for a proposed private medical centre.

In a vote Tuesday night, 39 members voted for Option A, while 29 members voted for Option B. Nine ballots were spoiled.

The band will borrow the money to acquire Canadian Western Bank's mortgage security over the land. Repayment of the loan will be done over a 15-year period.

At a news conference last month, Chief Robert Louie told assembled media, with the membership's blessing, it could be a year before a decision is made on what the project will look like.

ORIGINAL

Westbank First Nation members get a chance to voice their opinion tonight on the future of lands set aside for a proposed private medical centre.

Band members will have one hour to cast their vote on two options being made available to them. Both involve the expenditure of millions of dollars of band funds.

The 12 acres in question was provided by the band as part of its contribution for the medical centre.

The mortgage on the land is now in default, and band council hopes to be able to buy it back.

The price tag is nearly $8 million.

Band members have two options on Tuesday's ballot:

OPTION A: To approve borrowing of up to $8,050,000 to acquire Canadian Western Bank's mortgage security over the land. Repayment of the loan would be over 15 years.

OPTION B: To approve of the incorporation of a WFN wholly owned corporation to purchase Canadian Western Bank's loan and to hold a replacement lease of the lands for the balance of the original term of the lease. $5.2 million in funding would be provided, with the balance financed through loans.

Meanwhile, a petition has been circulating to force a general membership meeting and put a stop to the vote.

The petition reads:

We the undersigned are petitioning for a Special Membership Meeting to be called to discuss:

1. Including more options for membership to vote on regarding the Canadian Western Bank Mortgage loan on WFN lands leased to Lake Okanagan Wellness Limited Partnership and

2. To allow membership input into setting a reasonable timeline for membership discussions on this issue and membership input into the method of voting on this issue.

The petition, which needed at least 40 signatures to be valid, was to have been dropped off at WFN offices today.

Source:  http://www.castanet.net/news/West-Kelowna/145778/WFN-to-buy-back-mortgage

Blue Divider Line

Louie: Health centre alive
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore | Story: 144710 - Jul 23, 2015


Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet

A proposed multimillion-dollar private health centre on Westbank First Nation lands is not dead.

That according to Chief Robert Louie, who addressed the media Thursday to comment on what he called some "extremely negative comments expressed to the media by a small handful of our band members."

Louie said the comments have had a negative impact on the integrity of chief and council, band administration, the membership as a whole and, to some extent, businesses located on WFN lands.

The comments surround a partnership agreement between Westbank First Nation and Ad Vitam Healthcare Ltd.

As part of that agreement, WFN provided Ad Vitam with a parcel of land (about 12 acres). In exchange, Ad Vitam was supposed to raise the capital needed to construct the medical facility.

"This, unfortunately, did not happen," said Louie, calling it one of a few hiccups along the way.

"Our membership is disappointed. This council shares in that disappointment. We had hoped to have this project lifted off the ground months, if not years ago."

Louie said the complexity of the project was at the root of the problem.

"Our general partner's primary responsibility was to find financing for this project. They did in fact find some financing, but not sufficient for this project to proceed.

"Precisely, that's exactly where this project has fallen off the rails is lack of financing found by our general partner."

While Louie couldn't speculate why financing was difficult to obtain, he did say this is the first project in Canada that was to include private medical support.

"That creates some difficulty in itself," he said.

Another hiccup is a mortgage on the property obtained by Ad Vitam which, according to Chief Louie, will come due imminently.

"Our general partner did not repay the loan, therefore we are now responsible to address that debt. Addressing that debt is the responsible thing to do. We will hold true to that indemnification. This is business, and we will not shirk in our responsibilities," said Louie.

The amount in question is $7.9 million, although Louie said that amount could be negotiated.

Band members will have a chance to voice their opinion on what should be done with the land and how the band will repay the debt.

In February, several band members issued a petition asking for a complete, independent audit of receipts, expenditures and liabilities associated with the project. While the audit was not complete, lacking some financial documents from the general partner, Louie believed it was fair.

"Everything has been put on the table for our members, and that's been made very clear. Our members know that," said Louie.

"There are those who choose perhaps to confuse that with unbased facts they believe in ... that's what has caused a bit of concern."

A second petition has also begun circulating, demanding chief and council step down on constitutional grounds.

Chief Louie said bring it on.

"It's nonsensical, it will go no place. There has been no breach of any constitutional matters legal or otherwise. These are very significant matters. Every step WFN takes in matters of this nature, we bring on legal counsel. Legal counsel are by our side and give advice every step of the way.

"If they want to challenge us, bring it on."

Ultimately, Louie said, band membership will determine what happens with the project.

What happens with the land in question is step one – if the band gets the go ahead to re-acquire the land.

He believes, with the membership's blessing, it could be a year before a decision is made on what the project will look like.

Louie does believe it will likely look different than what was originally proposed.

"I believe it is reasonable to assume the medical centre as originally proposed may well change in design and may flow into what we now refer to as a potential centre of excellence. That development is proposed and being looked at very carefully."

Originally, the band was looking to raise about $120 million for the centre.

Louie said one option could be a scaled-down version that is wholly subsidized by the band.

Those decisions will be made down the road.

As for his own political future, Louie said this controversy will force him to run for another term in office when elections roll around in August of 2016.

"Unless something drastically changes, I have no choice. I am going to be running for re-election. This is one of the big factors, yes."

Source: castanet.net/news/West-Kelowna/144710/Louie-Health-centre-alive

Blue Divider Line

WFN forced to pay partner's 7.9 million dollar debt
AM1150 - 7/23/2015

A significant financial road block in the Westbank First Nations' plans to build a $125-million dollar medical centre on WFN land.

The project's partner, Ad Vitam Health Care, is unable to pay a $7.9-million dollar loan on a 12-hectare piece of land that was to be the site of the centre.

Chief Robert Louie says the band is now on the hook for that loan.

"There is a lease that is on that property. That lease has an encumbered debt on it. It is a debt that is generated by our general partner. What we did to allow for the potential construction that we anticipated by our general partners is to put up the land as our vested security for this project."

Louie says a band membership vote will be held shortly to decide which way they want to cover that debt.

Despite that unexpected loan payment, Louie says the medical centre isn't dead.

Louie added, despite facing the prospect of paying back the loan, Westbank First Nation is in good financial shape with net assets of over $100 million dollars.

Source: am1150.ca/News/Kelowna/2015/07/23/wfn-forced-to-pay-partners-79-million-dollar-debt

Blue Divider Line

Missing documents for Westbank audit mysteriously resurface
By Marshall Jones & John McDonald - InfoTel Multimedia - July 08, 2015

In February, Westbank First Nation members demanded an audit of band dealings in the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre after they found themselves on the hook for $7.9 million. When they failed to get it, they pursued the recall of Chief and council. In our ongoing series, we discover the documents central to that audit may have been there all along. |

Crucial documents missing from an audit of Westbank First Nation’s involvement in the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre — a key plank in a member-driven petition to remove chief and councillors — have been found, and may not have been missing in the first place, Infonews.ca has learned.

The stalled plans for what would have been Canada’s first private, for-profit hospital slated for prime band land overlooking Okanagan Lake, has sent shock waves among band members who may be on the hook for nearly $8 million in loans that weren’t approved by members, as required by the band’s constitution, according to documents obtained by Infonews.ca.

The $150-million hospital plan stalled sometime in 2013 after funding was lost amid cross allegations between Westbank First Nation, its partner Ad Vitam, and Oxbridge Ventures of Vancouver. While Ad Vitam principles Mark McLoughlin and Lyle Oberg say plans are back on track with new lenders, it may not be enough to save Chief Robert Louie and councillors Brian Eli, Mic Werstiuk, Chris Derrickson and Mike De Guevera.

Westbank First Nation officials blamed the failure to produce an audit on Ad Vitam, saying McLoughlin couldn’t produce vital financial documents. But in an interview, McLoughlin put it right back on the band, suggesting the materials are, and perhaps always were available.

And while the wellness centre partners point fingers, band members continue to remain in the dark about where the money went.

According to the band’s constitution, the council is obligated to respond to petitions from band members, provided they have 20 per cent of the approximately 500 voting members. Seventy-two band members signed the petition calling for the audit. Failure to produce the audit and explain how the deal apparently soured is now a key reason for a new petition still circulating among band members calling for the removal of chief and councillors.

Members circulated a successful petition with 72 signatures in February demanding a full audit of the wellness centre deal, which wasn’t provided because, according to auditors, they faced lengthy delays getting source documents.

According to BDO auditor Ken Carmichael, in a report to the band, much of the financial statements and paper work was never provided by Ad Vitam.

“Ad Vitam proved difficult to get a hold of and difficult to get commitment from on this matter,” Carmichael wrote. Later in his report, he said: “It is believed by Ad Vitam’s principle, Mark McLoughlin, to be in Ad Vitam’s office space. Ad Vitam has no ability to access this space due to a dispute with its landlord.”

In an interview, McLoughlin now says all the paper work is now accounted for and contradicted Carmichael’s letter to members.

“We had to secure some stuff from the office which we did and we didn’t hear back from (the band’s) legal folks as to what to do with the the information,” he said. “So right now, we are actually in the process of doing our own audit with our funding partner so that audit is underway on our end anyway. As far as what (the band) has to do, they are certainly welcome to have access to anything that they want at any point in time. We do have it all in our possession so it is there for them if they need it.”

But it remains unclear if Ad Vitam had the records all along because while McLoughlin says they “fairly recently” were able to get access to the company’s former office, landlord Noll Derriksan says they neither sought nor were granted access to their offices. According to a default judgment in B.C. Supreme Court, Ad Vitam owes Derriksan nearly $150,000 for unpaid rent.

Still, McLoughlin insists they were granted access to the office.

“When we moved, the realization was that we had some stuff in some cabinets in an area of the office that we didn’t take at the time so obviously when we left we couldn’t get back in there up until fairly recently which we were able to do and secure what we needed to secure. So the band was informed...that all the information was there. We were just looking at where to have that sent. And that is still the same today, they can have access as soon as we are done our audit now because our accountant has all our information,” he said.

When it was put to McLoughlin that Derriksan disputed that claim, he said: “Well OK, well we got it all back.”

Derriksan also said there was no need for Ad Vitam to regain access because the office was empty.

The state of the petition to remove chief and councillors is unknown. Four copies of the petition are currently in circulation and have not yet been returned.

Repeated calls to Westbank First Nation were not returned and Chief Robert Louie has refused requests for an interview. Instead, he released this statement; “The proposed medical centre project on WFN community-held lands adjacent to the WFN office are undergoing a master planning review with the membership currently and we have no updates for the public at this time.”

Partial interview with Mark McLoughlin of Ad Vitam Health Care.
To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald "at" infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones "at" infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Source: infotel.ca/newsitem/missing-documents-for-westbank-audit-mysteriously-resurface/it21072

Blue Divider Line

Cracks were showing in Westbank First Nation's private hospital plan last year
infotel.ca - By Marshall Jones & John McDonald - June 27, 2015

WESTBANK FIRST NATION - Despite assertions from the partners behind Canada’s first for-profit private hospital that it is proceeding as planned, documents show the deal to develop the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre was in disarray last year.

When it became clear in October 2014 that Ad Vitam Health Care was out of money and unable to pay rent, the company entered negotiations with a private landowner on Westbank First Nations to leave its partnership with the band, according to documents filed with the B.C. Supreme Court.

Ad Vitam has been working in partnership with Westbank First Nation since 2011 to build the hospital for $120 million to $150 million. The band’s commitment was 20 acres of prime real estate overlooking Okanagan Lake and Ad Vitam was to raise financing and manage the facility.

In March 2013, the company secured a commitment letter from Oxbridge Group of Companies for $150 million in financing but the cash never materialized and neither the band, nor Ad Vitam directors Mark McLoughlin and Lyle Oberg will say when or why it was pulled, in part because the matter is being investigated by the RCMP.

Both Oberg and McLoughlin say the project is back on track with a new funding partner, but couldn’t give specifics.

However in response to the lawsuit for defaulting on its office lease, filed Dec. 31, 2014, Ad Vitam said when “the development became stalled” and it could no longer pay $8,400 rent for the entire fourth floor of a building in Estates Square on Old Okanagan Highway, the company turned to landlord Noll Derriksan, himself a grand chief and former chief of Westbank First Nation, to renegotiate.

“The parties reached an agreement for the wellness and medical clinic to be built on lands to which the plaintiff holds a certificate of possession rather than on lands directly in the name of WFN,” the counter claim says.

The partners contemplated a scaled down version of the project at $50 million and agreed Derriksan would attempt to raise the money from private lenders in exchange for a finder's fee.

Ad Vitam said the relationship broke down when Derriksan made "certain demands" and made other, unspecified allegations he attempted to interfere with the development.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. No further filings were made by Ad Vitam and a default judgment was registered for just shy of $150,000.

Contacted earlier this week, Oberg would only say Ad Vitam decided the office was too big for its needs and opted to vacate.

“We felt we didn’t need the space at that point in time. It was a large space and… we didn’t know if the project was going to ahead at the time (and) we had a dispute with the landlord,” he said.

McLoughlin said Ad Vitam would deal with the matter in time but refused to speak about the secondary negotiations with Derriksan.

“A lot of groups are very interested in building a facility,” he said. “It is of high interest to a lot of people. We continually get calls… or levels of interest around what that could look like. That is not an uncommon thing for someone to look at building the facility. Anybody can go out and build the facility if they have the capital to do it.”

Derriksan confirmed they were in negotiations but denies he interfered in the deal. He says he tried to connect the project with two different venture capitalists from overseas but they wouldn't touch it.

“I had several investors that might have taken this deal but what they were missing is approval, some evidence they would be allowed by (Health Canada) to do this. I had one guy who would normally jump all over this type of thing but he never even responded.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald "at" infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones "at" infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Source: infotel.ca/newsitem/cracks-were-showing-in-westbank-first-nations-private-hospital-plan-last-year/it20748

Blue Divider Line

Stalled private hospital has Westbank band members, police asking questions about finances
By Marshall Jones & John McDonald - InfoTel Multimedia - June 25, 2015

FUNDING COLLAPSE; RECALL CAMPAIGN

WESTBANK FIRST NATION - Canada’s first private, for-profit hospital, slated for development on Westbank First Nation land, has stalled amid lost venture capital funding and criminal allegations and the political fallout could claim the band’s chief and councillors.

The Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre is a project the band announced with much fanfare in 2011. The high-end private medical facility was to provide a roster of surgical procedures for well-heeled clients in a resort setting on 20 acres of band land overlooking Okanagan Lake. Opening of the facility was originally scheduled for March, 2015.

Principals of the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre limited partnership is a company called Ad Vitam and Westbank First Nation, which was to contribute land for the development. Ad Vitam’s role was to provide overall medical direction and raise the money to build the facility.

Ad Vitam principals Lyle Oberg and Mark McLoughlin say they are hopeful the project will proceed with a new funding partner, a process they say is already under way, however the future of the project appears to be in doubt, according to numerous interviews and documents obtained by infonews.ca.

A commitment letter from March 2013 shows that approximately $150 million for the Lake Okanagan Wellness Clinic was secured from Oxbridge Capital Group of Companies but that money was never advanced. The partners refuse to say when or why the funding stopped and a letter from the band, in response to questions posed by a band member, says the RCMP is investigating.

“The basis of the investigation is that Oxbridge has absconded with a sum in excess of $2 million where it had not earned those funds,” wrote WFN Council secretariat Kevin Kingston.

Several calls this week to Oxbridge have not been returned. Attempts to interview Chief Robert Louie were also denied, although he did issue an email statement. “The proposed medical centre project on WFN community-held lands adjacent to the WFN office are undergoing a master planning review with the membership currently and we have no updates for the public at this time.” Louie did not elaborate what the “master planning review” was.

In February, band members took the rare step of engaging the band’s self-governance constitution to circulate a petition forcing chief and council to conduct an audit of the partnership and its business dealings. That audit was never completed. A report from accountant BDO says documents were not made available by Ad Vitam and could “provide no assurance as to the amounts being reported.” It quotes McLoughlin saying the documents were locked in Ad Vitam’s office in Estates Square in West Kelowna. Ad Vitam was evicted by its landlord because it stopped paying rent in October 2014.

A default judgment against Ad Vitam in favour of its landlord is registered in B.C. Supreme Court for nearly $150,000.

From the auditor’s report, it appears Westbank First Nation is on the hook for between $7.9 to $10.3 million in debts through mortgages and brokerage fees still owing to Oxbridge.

The band’s role in the partnership was originally limited to providing only the land for the clinic — no cash. However to raise capital, the partnership secured a mortgage on those lands from Canadian Western Bank, and Ad Vitam stopped making payments toward the mortgage February 1. If the bands wants the lands back, the $7.9 million owing on the mortgage must be paid. The auditors report also notes another $2.8 million is owed to Oxbridge for brokerage fees, despite the loss of funds and the criminal allegations.

The band’s constitution states any expenditure over $500,000 requires a special membership meeting and a vote by the membership. Band members say neither of those occurred prior to taking out that mortgage or an earlier $2.5 million loan that was paid off by the $7.5 million mortgage.

Roxanne Lindley is one of many band members now questioning the entire project. Since the fall of 2014, she says there have been several acrimonious meetings with the band council trying to get information about the wellness centre development.

“There could be millions of dollars missing and they won’t tell us about it,” said Lindley. “If you screwed up, just tell us. We want them to be accountable.”

A second petition is now circulating among Westbank First Nation members calling for the removal of Robert Louie and the four sitting councillors, Chris Derrickson, Mic Werstiuk, Brian Eli and Mike De Guevara. It cites their failure to respond to the first petition by not producing a full and complete audit and “failure to disclose to all membership how the WFN Council proposed to repay existing and ongoing financial obligations resulting from (the partnership).”

“These breaches show a complete lack of transparency in the financial matters of the WFN, have nullified any accountability of their fiduciary duties (to) membership and through the blatant mismanagement of membership monies,” the petition reads in part.

It’s not known how many signatures are on the recall petition so far, which requires the signatures of 20 per cent of voting members. Just 72 signatures was sufficient to force the band to conduct the audit.

On Wednesday, Ad Vitam partner Lyle Oberg, a former MLA and cabinet minister in the Alberta provincial government, said it may have appeared last October the project was dead, however it is back on track.

“We are in negotiations on finishing the financing,” he said. “That has been the difficult part on the health centre.”

Neither he nor McLoughlin were aware of the petition to remove chief and council. In an interview, McLoughlin said he couldn’t disclose any information about new financing for the project because he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement. He said a unique project such as the wellness clinic should be expected to have “ebbs and flows” but he has no new timeline for its completion.

“We are hopeful to be able to have, over the next couple of months, some positive indications to be able share,” he said. “There is due diligence happening (but) we can’t get into the specifics. It is moving in a positive direction.”

Former WFN chief Noll Derriksan, who is backing the recall drive, said the band leadership is playing fast and loose with the constitution and governance policies.

“They aren’t supposed to spend more than $500,000 on anything without membership approval. Period. Yet here they are making transactions, moving money around that’s way more than that,” he said. “They can’t put a mortgage on that land without going to the people. And they didn’t do that.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald "at" infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones "at" infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Source: infotel.ca/newsitem/stalled-private-hospital-has-westbank-band-members-police-asking-questions-about-finances/it20717

Blue Divider Line

A prescription for change
by The Canadian Press | Story: 144201 - Jul 15, 2015

Two of Canada's biggest provinces — Ontario and British Columbia — are welcoming the federal government's plea to join a provincial and territorial alliance designed to buy prescription drugs in bulk.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins says he is pleased to see the feds have expressed interest in co-operating in the framework established by the provinces and territories in 2010 to co-ordinate bulk buying and reduce costs for publicly funded drug programs.

"It is not surprising that the federal government would also want to see savings in their drug costs," Hoskins said in a statement.

But there's a catch.

"We hope they play a meaningful role in (the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance), while respecting the leadership the provinces and territories have shown in this area, which might include reinvesting the savings they would achieve as a partner in PCPA into provincial drug programs."

Hoskins also stressed the need for a "federal partner at the health care table" that is "not simply focused on cost-cutting, but on improving the delivery and quality of health care."

B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake is also welcoming the government's interest to join the alliance, and calls it a "common sense" approach.

Lake said he has spoken with Ambrose directly about the value of welcoming the federal government to the network.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose has been ramping up the pressure recently to try and make that happen.

The federal government is one of the biggest buyers of prescription drugs in Canada, as it helps supply medications to the prison population, soldiers and veterans and First Nations.

In a letter obtained by The Canadian Press sent just before premiers gathered in St. John's for meetings this week, Ambrose urged her provincial and territorial counterparts to tap into federal "buying leverage and expertise."

"In the lead-up to the Council of the Federation meetings ... I urge you to please encourage your premier to accept the federal government's request to join this very successful initiative," Ambrose said. "I believe that when it comes to the cost of prescription drugs, Canadians are being ripped off."

Federal opposition health critics raised questions Wednesday about the government's sudden eagerness to join the alliance on the eve of an election.

Liberal health critic Hedy Fry went as far as to send a curt letter to Ambrose on Wednesday outlining her skeptism after reading reports by The Canadian Press.

"I read, with great interest, reports that you are urging the provinces and territories to allow the federal government to take apart in the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance to purchase and supply pharmaceuticals at lower costs," Fry wrote. "While I welcome your new-found enthusiasm to involve yourself ... it is 10 years too late."

The NDP and Liberals remain highly-critical of the Conservative government's approach to the health file, include the decision to allow Canada's health accord with the provinces to expire.

The federal role in prescription-drug programs has also often been a source of friction between Ottawa and the provinces.

Hoskins, a family doctor, held a roundtable on the issue last month with provincial and territorial ministers, along with academics and other pharmacare experts. He has been a vocal advocate for a national pharmacare scheme.

The federal government did not accept an invitation to attend the roundtable. It will not be attending the Council of the Federation meetings in St. John's this week, either.

Source: castanet.net/news/Canada/144201/A-prescription-for-change

Blue Divider Line

Missing documents for Westbank audit mysteriously resurface
By Marshall Jones & John McDonald - InfoTel Multimedia - July 08, 2015

In February, Westbank First Nation members demanded an audit of band dealings in the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre after they found themselves on the hook for $7.9 million. When they failed to get it, they pursued the recall of Chief and council. In our ongoing series, we discover the documents central to that audit may have been there all along. |

Crucial documents missing from an audit of Westbank First Nation’s involvement in the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre — a key plank in a member-driven petition to remove chief and councillors — have been found, and may not have been missing in the first place, Infonews.ca has learned.

The stalled plans for what would have been Canada’s first private, for-profit hospital slated for prime band land overlooking Okanagan Lake, has sent shock waves among band members who may be on the hook for nearly $8 million in loans that weren’t approved by members, as required by the band’s constitution, according to documents obtained by Infonews.ca.

The $150-million hospital plan stalled sometime in 2013 after funding was lost amid cross allegations between Westbank First Nation, its partner Ad Vitam, and Oxbridge Ventures of Vancouver. While Ad Vitam principles Mark McLoughlin and Lyle Oberg say plans are back on track with new lenders, it may not be enough to save Chief Robert Louie and councillors Brian Eli, Mic Werstiuk, Chris Derrickson and Mike De Guevera.

Westbank First Nation officials blamed the failure to produce an audit on Ad Vitam, saying McLoughlin couldn’t produce vital financial documents. But in an interview, McLoughlin put it right back on the band, suggesting the materials are, and perhaps always were available.

And while the wellness centre partners point fingers, band members continue to remain in the dark about where the money went.

According to the band’s constitution, the council is obligated to respond to petitions from band members, provided they have 20 per cent of the approximately 500 voting members. Seventy-two band members signed the petition calling for the audit. Failure to produce the audit and explain how the deal apparently soured is now a key reason for a new petition still circulating among band members calling for the removal of chief and councillors.

Members circulated a successful petition with 72 signatures in February demanding a full audit of the wellness centre deal, which wasn’t provided because, according to auditors, they faced lengthy delays getting source documents.

According to BDO auditor Ken Carmichael, in a report to the band, much of the financial statements and paper work was never provided by Ad Vitam.

“Ad Vitam proved difficult to get a hold of and difficult to get commitment from on this matter,” Carmichael wrote. Later in his report, he said: “It is believed by Ad Vitam’s principle, Mark McLoughlin, to be in Ad Vitam’s office space. Ad Vitam has no ability to access this space due to a dispute with its landlord.”

In an interview, McLoughlin now says all the paper work is now accounted for and contradicted Carmichael’s letter to members.

“We had to secure some stuff from the office which we did and we didn’t hear back from (the band’s) legal folks as to what to do with the the information,” he said. “So right now, we are actually in the process of doing our own audit with our funding partner so that audit is underway on our end anyway. As far as what (the band) has to do, they are certainly welcome to have access to anything that they want at any point in time. We do have it all in our possession so it is there for them if they need it.”

But it remains unclear if Ad Vitam had the records all along because while McLoughlin says they “fairly recently” were able to get access to the company’s former office, landlord Noll Derriksan says they neither sought nor were granted access to their offices. According to a default judgment in B.C. Supreme Court, Ad Vitam owes Derriksan nearly $150,000 for unpaid rent.

Still, McLoughlin insists they were granted access to the office.

“When we moved, the realization was that we had some stuff in some cabinets in an area of the office that we didn’t take at the time so obviously when we left we couldn’t get back in there up until fairly recently which we were able to do and secure what we needed to secure. So the band was informed...that all the information was there. We were just looking at where to have that sent. And that is still the same today, they can have access as soon as we are done our audit now because our accountant has all our information,” he said.

When it was put to McLoughlin that Derriksan disputed that claim, he said: “Well OK, well we got it all back.”

Derriksan also said there was no need for Ad Vitam to regain access because the office was empty.

The state of the petition to remove chief and councillors is unknown. Four copies of the petition are currently in circulation and have not yet been returned.

Repeated calls to Westbank First Nation were not returned and Chief Robert Louie has refused requests for an interview. Instead, he released this statement; “The proposed medical centre project on WFN community-held lands adjacent to the WFN office are undergoing a master planning review with the membership currently and we have no updates for the public at this time.”

Partial interview with Mark McLoughlin of Ad Vitam Health Care.
To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald "at" infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones "at" infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Source: infotel.ca/newsitem/missing-documents-for-westbank-audit-mysteriously-resurface/it21072

Blue Divider Line

Cracks were showing in Westbank First Nation's private hospital plan last year
infotel.ca - By Marshall Jones & John McDonald - June 27, 2015

WESTBANK FIRST NATION - Despite assertions from the partners behind Canada’s first for-profit private hospital that it is proceeding as planned, documents show the deal to develop the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre was in disarray last year.

When it became clear in October 2014 that Ad Vitam Health Care was out of money and unable to pay rent, the company entered negotiations with a private landowner on Westbank First Nations to leave its partnership with the band, according to documents filed with the B.C. Supreme Court.

Ad Vitam has been working in partnership with Westbank First Nation since 2011 to build the hospital for $120 million to $150 million. The band’s commitment was 20 acres of prime real estate overlooking Okanagan Lake and Ad Vitam was to raise financing and manage the facility.

In March 2013, the company secured a commitment letter from Oxbridge Group of Companies for $150 million in financing but the cash never materialized and neither the band, nor Ad Vitam directors Mark McLoughlin and Lyle Oberg will say when or why it was pulled, in part because the matter is being investigated by the RCMP.

Both Oberg and McLoughlin say the project is back on track with a new funding partner, but couldn’t give specifics.

However in response to the lawsuit for defaulting on its office lease, filed Dec. 31, 2014, Ad Vitam said when “the development became stalled” and it could no longer pay $8,400 rent for the entire fourth floor of a building in Estates Square on Old Okanagan Highway, the company turned to landlord Noll Derriksan, himself a grand chief and former chief of Westbank First Nation, to renegotiate.

“The parties reached an agreement for the wellness and medical clinic to be built on lands to which the plaintiff holds a certificate of possession rather than on lands directly in the name of WFN,” the counter claim says.

The partners contemplated a scaled down version of the project at $50 million and agreed Derriksan would attempt to raise the money from private lenders in exchange for a finder's fee.

Ad Vitam said the relationship broke down when Derriksan made "certain demands" and made other, unspecified allegations he attempted to interfere with the development.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. No further filings were made by Ad Vitam and a default judgment was registered for just shy of $150,000.

Contacted earlier this week, Oberg would only say Ad Vitam decided the office was too big for its needs and opted to vacate.

“We felt we didn’t need the space at that point in time. It was a large space and… we didn’t know if the project was going to ahead at the time (and) we had a dispute with the landlord,” he said.

McLoughlin said Ad Vitam would deal with the matter in time but refused to speak about the secondary negotiations with Derriksan.

“A lot of groups are very interested in building a facility,” he said. “It is of high interest to a lot of people. We continually get calls… or levels of interest around what that could look like. That is not an uncommon thing for someone to look at building the facility. Anybody can go out and build the facility if they have the capital to do it.”

Derriksan confirmed they were in negotiations but denies he interfered in the deal. He says he tried to connect the project with two different venture capitalists from overseas but they wouldn't touch it.

“I had several investors that might have taken this deal but what they were missing is approval, some evidence they would be allowed by (Health Canada) to do this. I had one guy who would normally jump all over this type of thing but he never even responded.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald "at" infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones "at" infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Source: infotel.ca/newsitem/cracks-were-showing-in-westbank-first-nations-private-hospital-plan-last-year/it20748

Blue Divider Line

Stalled private hospital has Westbank band members, police asking questions about finances
By Marshall Jones & John McDonald - InfoTel Multimedia - June 25, 2015

FUNDING COLLAPSE; RECALL CAMPAIGN

WESTBANK FIRST NATION - Canada’s first private, for-profit hospital, slated for development on Westbank First Nation land, has stalled amid lost venture capital funding and criminal allegations and the political fallout could claim the band’s chief and councillors.

The Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre is a project the band announced with much fanfare in 2011. The high-end private medical facility was to provide a roster of surgical procedures for well-heeled clients in a resort setting on 20 acres of band land overlooking Okanagan Lake. Opening of the facility was originally scheduled for March, 2015.

Principals of the Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre limited partnership is a company called Ad Vitam and Westbank First Nation, which was to contribute land for the development. Ad Vitam’s role was to provide overall medical direction and raise the money to build the facility.

Ad Vitam principals Lyle Oberg and Mark McLoughlin say they are hopeful the project will proceed with a new funding partner, a process they say is already under way, however the future of the project appears to be in doubt, according to numerous interviews and documents obtained by infonews.ca.

A commitment letter from March 2013 shows that approximately $150 million for the Lake Okanagan Wellness Clinic was secured from Oxbridge Capital Group of Companies but that money was never advanced. The partners refuse to say when or why the funding stopped and a letter from the band, in response to questions posed by a band member, says the RCMP is investigating.

“The basis of the investigation is that Oxbridge has absconded with a sum in excess of $2 million where it had not earned those funds,” wrote WFN Council secretariat Kevin Kingston.

Several calls this week to Oxbridge have not been returned. Attempts to interview Chief Robert Louie were also denied, although he did issue an email statement. “The proposed medical centre project on WFN community-held lands adjacent to the WFN office are undergoing a master planning review with the membership currently and we have no updates for the public at this time.” Louie did not elaborate what the “master planning review” was.

In February, band members took the rare step of engaging the band’s self-governance constitution to circulate a petition forcing chief and council to conduct an audit of the partnership and its business dealings. That audit was never completed. A report from accountant BDO says documents were not made available by Ad Vitam and could “provide no assurance as to the amounts being reported.” It quotes McLoughlin saying the documents were locked in Ad Vitam’s office in Estates Square in West Kelowna. Ad Vitam was evicted by its landlord because it stopped paying rent in October 2014.

A default judgment against Ad Vitam in favour of its landlord is registered in B.C. Supreme Court for nearly $150,000.

From the auditor’s report, it appears Westbank First Nation is on the hook for between $7.9 to $10.3 million in debts through mortgages and brokerage fees still owing to Oxbridge.

The band’s role in the partnership was originally limited to providing only the land for the clinic — no cash. However to raise capital, the partnership secured a mortgage on those lands from Canadian Western Bank, and Ad Vitam stopped making payments toward the mortgage February 1. If the bands wants the lands back, the $7.9 million owing on the mortgage must be paid. The auditors report also notes another $2.8 million is owed to Oxbridge for brokerage fees, despite the loss of funds and the criminal allegations.

The band’s constitution states any expenditure over $500,000 requires a special membership meeting and a vote by the membership. Band members say neither of those occurred prior to taking out that mortgage or an earlier $2.5 million loan that was paid off by the $7.5 million mortgage.

Roxanne Lindley is one of many band members now questioning the entire project. Since the fall of 2014, she says there have been several acrimonious meetings with the band council trying to get information about the wellness centre development.

“There could be millions of dollars missing and they won’t tell us about it,” said Lindley. “If you screwed up, just tell us. We want them to be accountable.”

A second petition is now circulating among Westbank First Nation members calling for the removal of Robert Louie and the four sitting councillors, Chris Derrickson, Mic Werstiuk, Brian Eli and Mike De Guevara. It cites their failure to respond to the first petition by not producing a full and complete audit and “failure to disclose to all membership how the WFN Council proposed to repay existing and ongoing financial obligations resulting from (the partnership).”

“These breaches show a complete lack of transparency in the financial matters of the WFN, have nullified any accountability of their fiduciary duties (to) membership and through the blatant mismanagement of membership monies,” the petition reads in part.

It’s not known how many signatures are on the recall petition so far, which requires the signatures of 20 per cent of voting members. Just 72 signatures was sufficient to force the band to conduct the audit.

On Wednesday, Ad Vitam partner Lyle Oberg, a former MLA and cabinet minister in the Alberta provincial government, said it may have appeared last October the project was dead, however it is back on track.

“We are in negotiations on finishing the financing,” he said. “That has been the difficult part on the health centre.”

Neither he nor McLoughlin were aware of the petition to remove chief and council. In an interview, McLoughlin said he couldn’t disclose any information about new financing for the project because he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement. He said a unique project such as the wellness clinic should be expected to have “ebbs and flows” but he has no new timeline for its completion.

“We are hopeful to be able to have, over the next couple of months, some positive indications to be able share,” he said. “There is due diligence happening (but) we can’t get into the specifics. It is moving in a positive direction.”

Former WFN chief Noll Derriksan, who is backing the recall drive, said the band leadership is playing fast and loose with the constitution and governance policies.

“They aren’t supposed to spend more than $500,000 on anything without membership approval. Period. Yet here they are making transactions, moving money around that’s way more than that,” he said. “They can’t put a mortgage on that land without going to the people. And they didn’t do that.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald "at" infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones "at" infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Source: infotel.ca/newsitem/stalled-private-hospital-has-westbank-band-members-police-asking-questions-about-finances/it20717

Blue Divider Line

This came by email so there is no link.

Update on the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease
June 16, 2015

Dear friends and supporters,

I wanted to take a moment and provide you with an update on the implementation of my Private Member’s Bill C-442, An Act Respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease. The bill, having passed the House of Commons and Senate unanimously last year, received Royal assent in December of 2014 and is now law. The Government has begun planning for the conference, mandated by the bill, that will inform the Minister’s preparation of a final report that will establish a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease.

Some of the recent first steps taken by the Government to prepare for the conference have raised concerns among members of the Lyme patient community. I hope to clarify some of the worries associated with the recent survey, ‘Consultation on the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease.’ This month, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the agency tasked with developing the Federal Framework, released an online survey that asks participants to share details about their involvement with Lyme and to share their thoughts on the availability, effectiveness and awareness of current practices regarding federal Lyme surveillance, guidelines and education policies.

This survey is not intended to be the full extent of patient consultation required by law in advance of the final report. Nor will it supplement patient group representation at the Conference. I have been assured by the Minister of Health that the conference will fully comply with the law. The Act requires that the Minister “convene a conference with the provincial and territorial ministers and stakeholders, including representatives of the medical community and patients’ groups, for the purpose of developing a comprehensive federal framework.” This is a clear mandate that patient groups will have an unobstructed and clear opportunity to contribute to the proceedings of the conference. The survey is only a preliminary step by the Public Health Agency of Canada to engage with the Lyme community in advance of the conference.

I am also happy to report that the Minister has shared with us that the conference is scheduled to be held in mid-November of this year. Experts, provincial and federal lawmakers and patient groups will all gather to engage in meaningful and effective consultation that will contribute to the shaping of our federal approach to combatting Lyme disease. If you would like to find out more about the conference, including how to apply to participate, please contact Health Canada by e-mail (maladie_lyme_disease "at" phac-aspc.gc.ca) and ensure to include “Conference” in the subject line.

The support of thousands of Canadians, like you, whose lives have been affected by Lyme disease continues to be the driving force behind our efforts to improve outcomes for those suffering from this terrible disease. The passage of the bill was a crucial first step. We now move onto the work of putting this law into effect, and ensuring that all those affected by the disease have an opportunity to be heard.

Thank you again for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth May

Blue Divider Line


How about the lineup at the parking meter too!!  This is Vernon Jubilee Hospital Parking Meter lineup.

Medical wait time
Castanet.net - by Contributed | Story: 140969 - May 28, 2015

Re: “Medical Wait Time” Castanet Letter to the Editor of May 21st & subsequent “Wait for diagnosis too long to stomach” in May 24th edition of Okanagan Sunday.

I find it necessary to respond to comments made by Mr. John Cabral, Director of Health Services & Ambulatory Care at Interior Health, wherein he states, and I quote, “He suspects her referral is shorter than the 17 months she’s had to wait.”

Just for the record, and I want to make it abundantly clear to all those reading this, that his so called “suspicions” are totally ill-founded, and I take offence to the subtle insult to both myself and my doctor’s integrity. I wonder what kind of idiots he thinks he’s dealing with here.

All the dates reported were confirmed and verified PRIOR to sending off my letters to the Premier, the Minister of Health, the President & CEO of IH, and the Leader of the Official Opposition. Yes, that’s right…the exact date of the 1st referral submitted to Interior Health was December 18, 2013, making the wait now in excess of 17 months!!!

Mr. Cabral also made the comment that he was unable to provide the average wait time for an elective case, but said it’s “less than a year.” As a person of authority with IH, Mr. Cabral needs to be brought up to speed as to what is actually happening out there with respect to medical wait times.

All this just further justifies my statement in Sunday’s article, that by making these baseless comments he’s just ‘passing the buck’ to cover up for IH’s dropping of the ball.

Sharon Vermette
West Kelowna

Blue Divider Line

Medical wait time
Castanet.net - by Contributed | Story: 140427 - May 21, 2015

Dear Premier Clark & Dr. Lake:

May 18, 2015, marked the 17th month since my doctor, in West Kelowna, requisitioned GI screening be done on my behalf. That’s right…since December 18, 2013.

I was advised from the get-go that I could expect to wait up to 12 months for the procedures. However, on December 1, 2014, my doctor was advised that it could take a further 8 weeks…or sometime around mid February 2015. Mid February came and went… with no word and no explanation. Then in mid April, my doctor again contacted GI screening, and was advised that it could take yet a further 8 week wait. I have lost confidence that it will happen by mid June.

My condition has greatly worsened over the past 7 months and I have daily on-going gastrointestinal issues. It’s of absolute necessity that I obtain scoping and biopsies to assess and diagnose the problem. Would you be waiting over 75 weeks to get diagnosed and treated?

Obviously Interior Health is shamefully failing to provide medically acceptable wait times…and all this is happening under your watch. Whatever the reason, be it lack of accountability, or lack of funding, you have the power to fix it…and it’s not getting fixed! This problem is solely on you, the Liberal Government of B. C. and Interior Health. There needs to be a really close look at how our tax dollars are being spent at Interior Health and the problem solved.

I’m frustrated, and I’m angry, and I’m tired of being sick every day with no answers to the problem. How long is too long for a person to wait? Seventy-five weeks and counting…are people expected to accept this - come on!

It would behoove you to respond to this letter.

S. Vermette
West Kelowna

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon October 9, 2014 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item - Chair Hobson about the Sobering Center, because it was a Director Item.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 9, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (8.38 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 9, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about about Director Item - Chair Hobson about the Sobering Center - .wma (1.13 MB)

.pdf icon October 9, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing was mentioned in the Agenda about Director Item - Chair Hobson about the Sobering Center, because it was a Director Item.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 9, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (8.38 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 9, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about about Director Item - Chair Hobson about the Sobering Center - .wma (1.13 MB)

.pdf icon October 9, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

11. DIRECTOR ITEMS

a) UBCM Convention - Meeting with IHA
Chair Hobson noted that Director Gray and Chair Hobson met with IHA regarding the sobering centre concept requesting they do a feasibility study and highlighting the case again why it was important to the region. They have undertaken to look at the issue with their senior management. It is clear that any new program funding has to come out of their existing funding and considered as part of all lHA services not just here in the Central Okanagan.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 9, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (8.38 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 9, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about about Director Item - Chair Hobson about the Sobering Center - .wma (1.13 MB)

Blue Divider Line

"Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells..."

"Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells..."
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/patient/page1

"A laboratory study of cannabidiol in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells." http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/patient/page2

"Cannabidiol Induces Programmed Cell Death in Breast Cancer Cells... In summary, we showed that CBD, a plant-derived cannabinoid, preferentially kills breast cancer cells…” http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/10/7/1161.full

"Cannabidiol, a safe and non-psychotropic ingredient of the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa," http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19690824

“Cannabidiol (CBD) Shown To Kill Breast Cancer Cells” http://www.cafemom.com/group/99198/forums/read/19190923/Cannabidiol_CBD_Shown_To_Kill_Breast_Cancer_Cells

“Here, we show that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), reduces human breast cancer cell proliferation by blocking the progression of the cell cycle and by inducing apoptosis.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16818634

“Programmed Cell Death (Apoptosis)” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26873/

"Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells..."
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/patient/page1

"...cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells... A laboratory study of delta-9-THC... showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells... A laboratory study of cannabidiol... showed that it caused cancer cell death..." http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/patient/page2

"Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not effect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death." http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page4

http://www.thctotalhealthcare.com/category/breast-cancer/

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon August 25, 2014 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item - Patty Hanson asking for people to donate blood to the Red Cross because it was a Director Item.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio August 25, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (14.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files August 25, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item - Patty Hanson asking for people to donate blood to the Red Cross - .wma (235 KB)

.pdf icon August 25, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing was mentioned in the Agenda about Director Item - Patty Hanson asking for people to donate blood to the Red Cross because it as a Director Item.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio August 25, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (14.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files August 25, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item - Patty Hanson asking for people to donate blood to the Red Cross - .wma (235 KB)

.pdf icon August 25, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

12. DIRECTOR ITEMS

c) Canadian Blood Services - Director Hanson noted the 'Blood Drive' starts September 5th and encouraged the Directors to give blood.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio August 25, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (14.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files August 25, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item - Patty Hanson asking for people to donate blood to the Red Cross - .wma (235 KB)

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon July 17, 2014 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

2013 Audited Financial Statements Adopted
The Regional Board has approved the 2013 Audited Financial Statements for the Regional District of Central Okanagan. A copy is available for viewing online at regionaldistrict.com/budgets and at the Finance and Administration Services in the Regional District office, 1450 KLO Road, Kelowna.

Fiscal 2013 Financial Disclosure Schedules
The Regional Board has approved the 2013 report outlining remuneration and expenses for elected officials and their alternates along with 30 staff whose remuneration was greater than $75,000. In 2013, the remuneration and benefits of all Regional District employees totalled more than $9.7-million down $250,732 (2.5%) from 2012. Savings were achieved despite rising wages and benefit costs through continued reorganization of staff. The report also outlines payments totalling over $11.6-million to 77 suppliers during 2013 for goods and services exceeding $25,000.
A copy is available for viewing online at regionaldistrict.com/budgets and at the Finance and Administration Services in the Regional District office, 1450 KLO Road, Kelowna.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio July 17, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (4.47 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 2013 Financial Statements Year Ended December 31 2013 and only about Item 5.1A 2013 Financial Statements - .wma (2.51 MB) We Owe a $85.5 Million Hospital Debt

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.2 2013 Financial Disclosure Schedules (wages) - .wma (270 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.3 Security Issuing Bylaw No 1350 - .wma (504 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.4 Ministry Letter Late 2013 Financial Statements - .wma (768 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.4 and Item 8.1 being added to the Agenda as a late item - .wma (302 KB)

.pdf icon July 17, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Item 5.1 2013 Financial Statements Year Ended December 31 2013

.pdf icon Item 5.1A 2013 Financial Statements

.pdf icon Item 5.2 2013 Financial Disclosure Schedules (shows wages)

.pdf icon Item 5.3 Security Issuing Bylaw No 1350

.pdf icon Item 5.4 Ministry Letter Late 2013 Financial Statements


click image for a larger copy

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio July 17, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (4.47 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 2013 Financial Statements Year Ended December 31 2013 and only about Item 5.1A 2013 Financial Statements - .wma (2.51 MB) We Owe a $85.5 Million Hospital Debt

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.2 2013 Financial Disclosure Schedules (wages) - .wma (270 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.3 Security Issuing Bylaw No 1350 - .wma (504 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.4 Ministry Letter Late 2013 Financial Statements - .wma (768 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.4 and Item 8.1 being added to the Agenda as a late item - .wma (302 KB)

.pdf icon July 17, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

1. CALL TO ORDER
Chair Hobson brought the meeting to orderat 8:40 a.m.

Chair Hobson requested that 5.1 - RDCO 2013 Financial Statements be discussed at this time in order that the auditors may leave.

5.1 RDCO 2013 Financial Statements - Year Ended December 31, 2013 (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)
Mike Gilmore & Peter Geh, BDO Canada LLP, was in attendance to present the audited financial statements for the RDCO. It was noted that the RDCO Audit Committee met to discuss the statements and recommends the Board approve the financial statements.

Staff highlighted the July 7, 2014 report on how the financial statements are to be reviewed. The Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) adopted revised standards with which all local governments comply with. It was further noted BDO has been provided a management letter stating there are no issues.

FIELDING/OPHUS
THAT the RDCO 2013 Financial Statements Year Ended December 31, 2013 be approved.

CARRIED Unanimously

===============

2. ADDITION OF LATE ITEMS

5.4 Ministry Letter - Late 2013 Financial Statements

8.1 Bylaw Enforcement Officer Appointment

=================

5. FINANCE &ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES

5.1 RDCO 2013 Financial Statements - Year Ended December 31, 2013 (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)

Agenda item 5.1 was discussed earlier in the agenda.

===================

5.3 RDCO Security Issuing Bylaw No. 1350 (All Directors - Weighted Vote)

EDGSON/ZIMMERMANN
THAT RDCO Security Issuing Bylaw No. 1350 be given first, second and third readings and adopted this 17th day of July 2014.

CARRIED Unanimously

====================

5.4 Ministry of Community, Sport & Cultural Development - Late 2013 Financial Statements (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)

Staff report dated July 10, 2014 outlined a letter from the Ministry of Community, Sport & Cultural Development regarding the late filing of the 2013 financial statements. The Audit Committee reviewed the letter and issues resulting in the delayed reporting and recommends the Board approve the following resolution.

It was further noted that should staff need a budget amendment for further resources in order to meet the Province's deadline next year that this is to be brought forward to the Board for early consideration.

FIELDING/BAKER
THAT staff continue to review position workloads within the Finance Department during 2014, complete the hiring process for the new approve accounting position, and continue to make changes internally to meet Ministry deadlines in 2015.

CARRIED Unanimously

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio July 17, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (4.47 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 2013 Financial Statements Year Ended December 31 2013 and only about Item 5.1A 2013 Financial Statements - .wma (2.51 MB) We Owe a $85.5 Million Hospital Debt

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.2 2013 Financial Disclosure Schedules (wages) - .wma (270 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.3 Security Issuing Bylaw No 1350 - .wma (504 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.4 Ministry Letter Late 2013 Financial Statements - .wma (768 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 17, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.4 and Item 8.1 being added to the Agenda as a late item - .wma (302 KB)

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon May 26, 2014 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item - Mayor Gray suggesting that recreational facilities be funded with the Regional Hospital Budget.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio May 26, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (22.2 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 26, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item - Mayor Gray suggesting that recreational facilities be funded with the Regional Hospital Budget - .wma (2 MB)

.pdf icon May 26, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon This was a Director item so there is nothing in the Agenda about Mayor Gray suggesting that recreational facilities be funded with the Regional Hospital Budget.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio May 26, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (22.2 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 26, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item - Mayor Gray suggesting that recreational facilities be funded with the Regional Hospital Budget - .wma (2 MB)

.pdf icon May 26, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

9. DIRECTOR ITEMS

c) Regional Hospital District

Director Gray noted that Kelowna Council has raised the question whether a Regional Hospital District can own land? It has been confirmed that it can.

Can a Regional Hospital District pay for a facility for recreation/health-is a little less clear. He noted that West Kelowna may wish to consider options for the lands set aside for a health facility. West Kelowna noted through results of a citizen survey they are well served with recreational facilities in their municipality.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio May 26, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (22.2 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 26, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item - Mayor Gray suggesting that recreational facilities be funded with the Regional Hospital Budget - .wma (2 MB)

Blue Divider Line

Does STRESS CAUSE CANCER?

Collectively, emerging evidence has shown stress and specific psychosocial factors to be associated with key elements of the metastatic cascade in both animal and human models.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037818/

====================================

Emotional stress reduces effectiveness of prostate cancer therapies in animal model
Not surprisingly, a cancer diagnosis creates stress. And patients with prostate cancer show higher levels of anxiety compared to other cancer patients. A new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center indicates that stress is not just an emotional side effect of the diagnosis; it also can reduce the effectiveness of prostate cancer drugs and accelerate the development of prostate cancer. The researchers tested the effects of behavioral stress in two different mouse models of prostate cancer. Wake Forest is home to the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center.

http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/cancerresearchnews/2013/EmotionalStressProstateTherapy

=======================================

For the first time, a direct link between stress and damage to the chromosomes in every cell has been shown, with the ends – called telomeres – shortening as people are more exposed to chronic emotional stress.

Although telomere length generally shortens as one ages, lifestyle and not only genetic differences can make these structures longer or shorter and thus affect one’s risk and timing of diseases from cancer to cardiovascular disease and stroke to diabetes.

http://www.jpost.com/Health-and-Science/Stress-can-raise-your-risk-of-cancer-other-diseases

====================================

Researchers have discovered that stressed cells can generate tumour-inducing signals that affect their neighbours.

It means that cancer mutations in separate cells can co-operate with each other to promote the growth of tumours.

Although the study was carried out on fruit flies, the same genes and biological pathways involved are found in humans.

Chronic inflammation, a key cause of stress on cells, is already known to be associated with tumour growth in cancer patients.

Some experts believe negative emotions, stress hormones, inflammation and cancer may all be linked, but the evidence is not clear.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/151565/Cancer-breakthrough-Scientists-confirm-link-between-stress-and-cancer

=====================================

Thurston [17] also draws attention to the possibility of a link between stress and cancer. After searching through the literature we came across only one other study that examined the impact of another major stressful event on cancer, namely, the Nazi Holocaust [19]. The conclusion of that study was that the Israeli Jews who were exposed to the Holocaust experienced higher incidence of all cancers later in their lives.

http://brainimmune.com/stress-and-cancer-a-link-through-the-chinese-cultural-revolution/

==========================================

Does Stress Feed Cancer?
A new study shows stress hormones make it easier for malignant tumors to grow and spread
Apr 13, 2010 |By Katie Moisse

A little stress can do us good—it pushes us to compete and innovate. But chronic stress can increase the risk of diseases such as depression, heart disease and even cancer. Studies have shown that stress might promote cancer indirectly by weakening the immune system's anti-tumor defense or by encouraging new tumor-feeding blood vessels to form. But a new study published April 12 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that stress hormones, such as adrenaline, can directly support tumor growth and spread.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-stress-feed-cancer/

========================================

Stress also can affect your immune system. Studies show that stress interferes with the way certain cells in your immune system work. In particular, it affects cells that find and that kill emerging cancer cells.

More studies have shown, though, that if you already have cancer, stress may play a role in the way it progresses. Such things as trauma, depression and distress have all been linked to more rapid progression

http://www.foundationforwomenscancer.org/types-of-gynecologic-cancers/ovarian/cancer-and-stress/

=========================================

Depression not only affects your brain and behavior—it affects your entire body. Depression has been linked with other health problems, including cancer. Dealing with more than one health problem at a time can be difficult, so proper treatment is important.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-cancer/index.shtml

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon February 24, 2014 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Zoning Bylaw Amendments Proposed

The Regional Board has given first reading to proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw No. 871. One of the suggested amendments deals with housing for Temporary Migrant Farm Workers and provides more flexible options that are consistent with the Agricultural Land Commission legislation and the Province’s template for migrant farm worker housing. The key changes include: setback provisions, maximum allowable floor area and confirmation from farm operators that buildings are for seasonal farm worker housing. A Public Hearing will be scheduled and advertised for the proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw. An amendment regarding medical marijuana production facilities was deferred until further information is available from Health Canada and other local governments.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 24, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (38.3 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights - .wma (1.77 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (18.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments for Migrant Farm Workers - .wma (1.67 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (639 KB)

.pdf icon February 24, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights

.pdf icon Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana)

.pdf icon Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana)

*Note* This is only a snippet, please click links above for full content

SIR Board Chair and Vice-Chair Elected:
The SIR Board is pleased to announce that Director Duane Ophus, RDCO (West Kelowna) and Director Allan Patton, RDOS (Electoral Area "c" Rural Oliver) were elected on February 7,2014 as SIR Board Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively. All regional district appointments remain the same as 2013.

SIR Board Financial Plan for 2014:
The SIR Board gave three readings and adopted Bylaw No. 29, SIR 2014-2018 Five Year Financial Plan which outlines the Board's $3.07 million annual budget. The adoption of this budget confirms that there is no increase in tax requisition to the Regional Districts for 2014 and the parcel tax rate remains at $139.26 per acre of planted codling moth host trees. There has been no increase in tax requisition since 2010.

====================

Purpose:
This is a Community Services Department initiated text and mapping amendment to Zoning Bylaw No. 871, 2000. The proposed amendments are listed in attached Bylaw No. 871-215 and attached Schedules 'A', 'B' and 'C'.

Executive Summary:
Based on feedback received to date, it is proposed that medical marihuana production facilities be restricted to agricultural and/or larger rural zoned lands. The amendments related to Temporary Agricultural Worker Dwellings/Accommodations are in keeping with provincial guidelines and initiatives that support agricultural operations in the region. The additional housekeeping items respond to highlighted issues identified through day-to-day workings with the Zoning Bylaw.

RECOMMENDATION:
THAT Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 871-215, application Z12/05 be given first reading;
AND FURTHER THAT the application be scheduled for a Public Hearing.

=====

To date, the RDCO has received five letters from potential applicants: one is zoned A1 and within the ALR, two are zoned RU2, others are zoned in the Joe Rich Rural Land Use Bylaw LH and RA and are located within the ALR.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 24, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (38.3 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights - .wma (1.77 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (18.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments for Migrant Farm Workers - .wma (1.67 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (639 KB)

.pdf icon February 24, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

Bylaws - (First Reading):

10.2 i) Land Use Contract Amendment Bylaw No. 258-04 for N. Weninger and C. Bailey (owners) N. Weninger (agent) to discharge Land Use Contract No. 258 in its entirety from the property located adjacent to Westside Road. (Z14/01) Central Okanagan West Electoral Area (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)

Staff report dated February 17, 2014 outlined an amendment bylaws to discharge a Land Use Contract, amend the Official Community Plan land use designation to Rural Residential and zone a parcel to RU6 Small Holdings in order to allow development of the 2.4 ha property as a rural residential lot. This is a downzoning to the property in order to build a home on a 2.4 ha property and is in keeping with limited servicing in the area and considered a low impact development application.

EDGSON/OPHUS
THAT Land Use Contract Amendment Bylaw No. 258-04 be given first reading.

CARRIED Unanimously

==

ii) Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 1274-03 for the above to amend the land use designation on the property from Commercial Resort to Rural Residential. (Z14/01) (All Directors - Unweighted Vote.

EDGSON/OPHUS
THAT Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 1274-03 be given first reading and scheduled for a Public Hearing.

CARRIED Unanimously

==

iii) Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 871-221 for the above to zone the property to RU6 Small Holdings (Z14/01) (Electoral Areas, Kelowna, and West Kelowna Fringe Area Directors)

EDGSON/OPHUS
THAT Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 871-221 be given first reading.

CARRIED Unanimously

=======================================================

10.3 Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 871-215 for Regional District of Central Okanagan (applicant) to amend the text and mapping of Zoning Bylaw No. 871, 2000 (Z12/05) Central Okanagan West and East Electoral Areas (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)

Staff report dated February 17, 2014 outlined the text amendments proposed for medical marijuana production facilities to be restricted to agricultural and/or larger rural zoned lands, and temporary agricultural worker dwellings/accommodations,
as well as housekeeping items identified through day-to-day works with the
zoning bylaw.

Staff noted that the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) has established medical marijuana as farm use and cannot be prohibited on ALR lands. The bylaw amendment proposes a minimum parcel size of 8 ha and significant setbacks including a 15 meter setback from water sources. Staff reviewed:
• Various local government processes are underway to restrict in ALR lands.
• Local governments can regulate but cannot prohibit. The ALC may not approve the bylaws if prohibited on ALR lands.
• A number of municipalities are holding their ground on industrial zoning.
• In the RDCO, there are no designated industrial zones in the electoral areas. The question was raised whether it is possible to create a special zone in the electoral areas?
• RDCO has received 5 letters of intent to go to Health Canada--3 in Central Okanagan East and 2 in Central Okanagan West. Health Canada has advanced one to the inspection stage. Staff has not been notified of their process.

What happens if zoning is not amended? Staff noted they do not know as Health Canada has not returned calls. Don't know what part local government's role is in final building inspection.

• The one application in Central Okanagan West has not yet gone through a site inspection. Once Health Canada approves it, it is understood the process can move forward.
• Any building would have to go through the BC Building Code and would be required to meet Health Canada requirements.
• Neighborhoods need some sense of security on what is to be planned as there is no control if zoning is wide open.
• Concern is the servicing requirements which are in conflict with this use on ALR lands.

Councillor Werstuik left the meeting at 9:45 p.m.

EDGSON/BAKER
THAT Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 871-215 be given first reading and scheduled for a Public Hearing.

Amendment to main motion
EDGSON/BAKER
THAT the sections related to Medical Marijuana Facilities be removed from the amendment bylaw to allow for further consideration.

Amendment CARRIED
Main Motion CARRIED Unanimously

===========================

10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No. 1195-09 for the Regional District of Central Okanagan (applicant) to amend the text of Joe Rich Rural Land Use Bylaw No. 1195, 2007 (RLUB-13-02) Central Okanagan East Electoral Area (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)

Staff report dated February 17, 2014 outlined the Joe Rich Rural Land Use Bylaw text amendments proposed for marijuana production facilities to be restricted to agricultural and/or larger rural designated lands, and temporary agricultural
worker dwellings/accommodations, as well as housekeeping items identified through day-to-day works with the bylaw.

Staff noted that to be consistent with Central Okanagan West zoning bylaw the same amendments for medical marijuana facilities and temporary agricultural worker dwellings are being recommended. Staff were asked to review further whether it is necessary to have a regulation for temporary agricultural worker dwellings in the JRRLU bylaw.

HANSON/BAKER
That amendments to Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No. 1195-09 be POSTPONED until further information is available on medical marijuana facilities.

CARRIED

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 24, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (38.3 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights - .wma (1.77 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (18.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments for Migrant Farm Workers - .wma (1.67 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (639 KB)

Blue Divider Line

Industrial zones for medical marijuana
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 109964 - Feb 28, 2014

File: A worker takes care of plants at Kelowna's largest legal grow operation.

West Kelowna Council has given first and second reading to a Zoning Amendment Bylaw that would allow commercial medical marijuana production in the District’s Light Industrial Zone, with minimum siting distances from P zones and zones that permit residential dwellings as principle use.

The Bylaw indicates that medical marijuana production would not be allowed within multi-tenanted buildings.

However, two site specific text amendments were added to permit its production in two multi-tenanted buildings in West Kelowna’s industrial zone as both properties are in stream applications with Health Canada. Council directed that the draft bylaw be taken to public hearing on Tuesday, March 11, at 1:30 p.m.

Commercial medical marijuana production must be licensed by Health Canada under the Federal Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.

Council further directed that staff write a letter to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and BC Assessment to object to the farm classification of commercial medical marihuana operations.

In other council news:

SILGA Resolutions

Council approved three resolutions to be forwarded for consideration at the Southern Interior Local Government Association’s 2014 convention April 29 to May 2 in Penticton. The resolutions to be forwarded are:
•“Provincial-Local Government Communication” which requests that the Provincial Government review its communication policy and procedures with a view to fostering a timelier and more cooperative partnership with local governments.
•“Expanded Public Notification Opportunities” which requests that the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development amend the Community Charter to expand the methods in which a local government can provide public notification to meet legislative requirements.
•“Medical Marijuana Production on ALR Land” which requests that the Union of BC Municipalities lobby the provincial government to amend the Agricultural Land Commission Act definition of "farm use" to exclude medical marijuana production as a farm use.


These resolutions will be submitted for consideration by SILGA’s membership. If approved, the resolutions will be taken to the UBCM convention, September 22 to 26 for member consideration.

Tallus Ridge Development

Council gave second readings to amendment bylaws to the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw for the majority of the remaining lands in the Tallus Ridge neighbourhood to a mix of park and open space, compact housing, single family residential, low density multiple family and medium density multiple family. Council directed that the bylaws be scheduled for public hearing pending receipt of an updated servicing report.

Glenrosa Road Development

Council gave third reading to an Official Community Plan amendment and an amendment to the District’s former Zoning Bylaw 0154 (the District’s new Zoning Bylaw comes into effect on March 13, 2014) for a development fronting Glenrosa Road to the East, Yorkton Road, Morningside Drive and Astoria Drive to the North. The development includes single family, compact housing, low density multiple housing as well as neighbourhood commercial and park and open space. The bylaws went to public hearing December 10, 2013. Council further agreed that the owner of the property provide excess services in the form of off-site water service upgrades at the time of subdivision. Staff will schedule the amendments for adoption pending dedication of park areas and registration of restrictive covenants which restrict future development pending certain items including:
•Construction of intersection improvements for Glenrosa Road and Webber Road
•Completion of water service upgrades
•Protection of hillside areas

Council also accepted a proposal that the applicant provide neighbourhood park improvements at the time of future development.

Rose Valley Development

Council adopted Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments for Phase 11 of the Rose Valley neighbourhood involving a nine hectare property located along the western boundary of the Rose Valley neighbourhood. The amendment changes the land use designation from Single Family Residential to Low Density Multiple Family and the subject area is rezoned from Rural 2 (RU2) to Low Density Multiple Family (R3A). This allows the construction of a 69-unit multiple family residential development which will incorporate a range of structures from duplexes to five-plexes. It is anticipated that 18 buildings will be constructed.

Boucherie Road Winery

Council authorized the issuance of a Development Variance Permit (DVP) to allow an increase to the maximum height of the principle building and retaining wall associated with a proposed winery on property at the Intersection of Hudson and Boucherie Roads. Council did not approve the requested variance to increase the height of an accessory building on the site. The 4.78 hectare property is zoned A1 and is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The proposed development will include a winery building, food and beverage lounge and an accessory building. Council further directed that the DVP be issued upon the submission of a professional landscape plan and an associated security to ensure the installation of landscaping screening at the base of the proposed retaining wall.

Wildhorse Park Conceptual Plan

Council was provided information on potentially fast-tracking the development of Wildhorse Park in the Smith Creek neighbourhood. The development of the park is currently recognized in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan as a medium to long term priority (10 to 20 years). The development of a Wildhorse Park Conceptual Plan is estimated to cost approximately $20,000 to complete and is not included in the 2014 Capital Budget. Council directed staff to continue public consultation with the Smith Creek neighbourhood to determine the neighbourhood park development needs and the level of support and bring back to Council the options for funding this consultation and park development.

Heritage Registry

Council adopted the District of West Kelowna’s first Community Heritage Register and two statements of significance have been prepared for the inclusion in the registry – the CNR Wharf site and the Gellatly Landing Park location in respect of the importance of transportation on Okanagan Lake.

Westbank Cemetery Services

Council adopted the Westbank Cemetery Bylaw, part of its Westbank Cemetery Strategy. The Bylaw now allows the sale of newly-installed columbarium niches and mausoleum crypts. A landscaping plan is also part of the strategy to improve the cemetery to a park-like setting.

Transportation Master Plan

Council adopted the District’s first Transportation Master Plan which builds upon the goals and objectives of the District's Official Community Plan to support the social and economic health of the District. The Plan uses current and future travel patterns and public expectations to determine incremental system improvements, and integrates these with existing infrastructure maintenance and renewal needs, to present a practical and affordable long term transportation strategy.

On Feb 28, 2014 local news Mayor Doug Findlater said it was partly a money issue because the District would receive more revenue through taxation from Industrial properties vs ALR land.

Blue Divider Line

1000 legal pot growers to be shut down
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 109690 - Feb 25, 2014

At the present time there are more than 1,000 licenced medical marijuana grow operations within the city of Kelowna.

In a letter sent to the city last year, Health Canada informed the City there are currently 841 people licenced to grow medical marijuana for personal use and another 181 active licences allowing people to grow for themselves and up to four other people.

New Health Canada rules will force them to shut down by the end of March.

To prepare for the inevitable growth of new operations, Kelowna City Council put forth a series of new zoning and bylaw regulations concerning the growing and distribution of medical marijuana.

According to Health Canada the new regulations, set to take affect April 1, will treat marijuana as much as possible like any other narcotic used for medical purposes by creating conditions for a new, commercial industry that is responsible for its production and distribution.

Those conditions, regulating health and safety and also where facilities could or could not be located, are being left to individual municipalities across the country.

At the present time medical marijuana operations can be located anywhere within a city as long as the operator has a licence for production from Health Canada.

Monday, Kelowna City Council approval a text amendment to zoning bylaw 8000 permitting medical marijuana production facilities only in I2 (General Industrial), I3 (Heavy Industrial) and I4 (Central Industrial) zones.

Other industrial zones such as I1, I5 and I6 were not included, although Councillor Andre Blanleil did question the exclusion of I1 (Business Industrial).


Environment & Land Use Manager, Todd Cashin, says staff was looking for industrial zones that provided the least amount of conflict with typical users within those zones.

"When staff was looking through the different uses I1 definitely came up...it was on the bubble," says Cashin.

"If you review the existing I1 zones that are out there today there are a lot of regular type businesses - a lot less on the true industrial use side. Some are closer to residential areas and the I1's, in some cases, had a bit more opportunities for conflict so staff left it off."

Some of the primary land uses in the I1 zone include animal clinics, care facilities, child care while I2 has automotive, warehousing and production facilities, things that look and feel like what the city feels the marijuana production facilities will look like.

A second text amendment was also approved to prohibit medical marijuana production facilities from all Agriculture 1 (A1) zones by amending the definition of agriculture.

Councillor Robert Hobson supported the direction council has taken in eliminating the possibility of of these facilities within the agricultural zone.

"This is an industrial use and not an agricultural use that requires the kinds of servicing and road access that an industrial property would require," says Hobson.

"It's (marijuana) not an outdoor crop like corn. To me it makes sense to focus on industrial areas."

Greg Wise, Kelowna's bylaws manager, says the Medical Marijuana Producer Business Licence and Regulation Bylaw mirrors those of Health Canada.

Those include:
•The applicant is obligated to ensure the location of the medical marijuana production facility meets all applicable stipulations of the City of Kelowna Zoning Bylaw 8000
•The applicant is obligated to obtain the required permits prior to commencement of any building, plumbing, natural gas, propane and electrical installations on any development site or building
•All new construction and tenant improvements must comply with the BC Building code, BC Fire Code and City of Kelowna Building Bylaw, Plumbing, Gas, Development Cost Charges, and Life Safety Bylaws

Submission of:
•A ventilation plan used to control the environment detailing how such system(s) prevents the escape of pollen, and other particles through exhausted air ensuring no odours leaving the premises can be detected by a person with a normal sense of smell at the exterior of the premises
•A plan that specifies the methods to be used to prevent the growth of harmful mould and achieve compliance with limitations on discharge into the waste water system of the City
•A security and exterior lighting plan consistent with the requirements of the Health Canada MMPR regulations, including monitored alarm system
•A plan of the placement and use of security cameras consistent with the Health Canada MMPR regulations
•A storage plan for the medical marijuana produced and/or otherwise stored on the Premises
•A plan for disposal of any medical marijuana or Infused marijuana that is not consumed by patients in a manner that protects any portion thereof being possessed or ingested by any person or animal
•A plan for packaging and delivery of medical marijuana to patients, including the loading and transport of product
•Provide a signed declaration that no pesticides or other toxic substance shall be used in medical marijuana production and that the operation will meet the Health Canada Technical Specifications for Dried Marihuana for Medical Purposes document
•A Copy of the Heath Canada Medical Marijuana Producer licence
•The names of every individual employed in the MMPR business and provide updates within 72 hrs. of any change in personnel
•Documentation that the applicant and all employees have passed an RCMP criminal records check on an annual basis
•The premises must be cleaned to the standard contained in the Nuisance Controlled Substance Bylaw 9510, as amended or replaced from time to time
•City may inspect at any time to confirm any and all conditions are being met
•Failure to meet any of the conditions will be grounds for a business licence suspension hearing [staff decision] or business licence revocation hearing [council decision]

Councillor Colin Basran did have some concerns with the provision allowing the city to inspect a facility at any time wondering if the RCMP would be accompanying staff members.

"Like with any business in our community there are those that are owned by very reputable people with good intentions and those that aren't," says Basran.

"I have some real concerns with our employees who are unarmed going into facilities that could potentially be run by people with not necessarily the best of intentions."

While businesses wanting to operate a production facility are required to undergo stringent background checks for themselves and all employees, City Clerk Stephen Fleming says if a bylaw officer feels there is an issue with their safety or public safety an RCMP member would come along.

Meantime, council had concerns over the cooperation or lack of from Health Canada in regards to how current facilities that will no longer be operational after March 31 are shut down.

While the RCMP and bylaws are working together to formulate an enforcement plan to ensure these operations are shut down as required by March 31, Health Canada is not providing the locations.

"This is something the RCMP is looking at nationally," says Fleming.

"There is an enforcement plan being worked upon to make sure those properties are subject to our grow-op bylaw where they have to be cleaned to a certain standard once the grow finishes. He have a high number of facilities subject to the bylaw with the challenge that Health Canada won't give us the specific addresses."

This did not sit well with council.

"I really find it discerning about Health Canada and I don't know if they really thought this through," says Maxine DeHart.

"It's really appalling to me and it's worth a discussion."

At the present time, Health Canada has approved eight licences across Canada including two in BC, one on Vancouver Island and the other in Maple Ridge in the Fraser Valley.

Blue Divider Line

Medical marijuana users say they’ll go underground
Globalnews.ca - By Kelly Hayes - Feb 20, 2014

KELOWNA - A Kelowna man is sounding the alarm about impending dramatic changes to the medical marijuana business.

Under the new rules, people who are licensed to possess marijuana for medical purposes will no longer be able to grow their own or purchase marijuana from small scale producers.

Richard Palson says the changes will mean medical marijuana users will not be able to afford their medicine and will also drive the business underground.

The 49-year-old Kelowna man had big dreams — studying to become a construction engineer, but in 2005 his life came crashing down in a construction accident that nearly severed his spine.

“Well, it was like I had lost my life. I had lost everything. I had lost the ability to earn a living, to take care of my kids and myself. All my ambitions of becoming an engineer went down the drain. It was a big blow.”

At first, Palson was put in a wheelchair and was taking up to 30 pills a day to cope with the pain and spasms. Through extensive rehab, he slowly regained control of his legs, but the pills were killing him.

“Although I was happy to get my legs back, I was losing the rest of my body, my liver, my kidneys.”

So he weaned himself off the meds and looked to medical marijuana as a substitute.

“I did what I needed to do to get off meds and found a physician who would agree to sign for my medical cannabis exemption.”

Palson smokes 300 grams a month at a cost of less than $100. But under the new federal regulations that take effect in April, Palson says he’ll have to doll out thousands to a designated commercial grower.

“It will cost me exactly $2630 which is basically four times what disability pays me.”

Palson says he and other medical marijuana users will have no choice but to break the law in order to afford to keep smoking medical marijuana.

“I know for a fact that it’s going to go underground because for one, the price is going to go above the price of black market cannabis.”

Palson says many are going to resort to homegrown.

“Some of us are going to go illegal and grow our own medicine.”

A group of lawyers have filed an injunction in BC Supreme Court, arguing the new medical marijuana regulations are unconstitutional.

A decision is expected March 18.

Blue Divider Line

Three B.C. medical pot licensees sue Ottawa over new law
By Keith Fraser, The Province February 19, 2014

Three B.C. medical pot licensees sue Ottawa over new law

Tweed Inc. workers tend to medical marijuana plants at a new commercial operation in Smiths Falls, Ont. Medical marijuana licensees in B.C. are suing to retain the right grow their own pot for their own use.
Photograph by: MICHEL COMTE , AFP/Getty Images


Three B.C. men who have medicinal marijuana licences say the federal government has violated their rights by changing the laws allowing them to possess and grow pot.

Kevin Garber, a Langley resident, says he needs marijuana to treat his severe epilepsy and arthritis and has held a licence to grow and possess pot since 2009.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, he says changes to the laws that will require him to purchase his pot from a licensed company will have a harmful effect on him.

Garber says his licence allows him to possess 1,800 grams of cannabis and his daily dosage, approved by his doctor, is 60 grams per day.

He is also allowed to cultivate 292 cannabis plants indoors and to store 13,140 grams of cannabis, he says.

But under the new law going into effect March 31, he could be required to destroy 15,000 grams of marijuana he would otherwise have used to meet his medical needs, he says.

Garber claims that none of the licensed producers under the new regime have the genetic variants he requires and the pricing far exceeds his ability to afford sufficient quantities of the drug for his medicinal requirements.

“[The] plaintiff experiences emotional and psychological distress as a result of his awareness that on March 31, 2014 he will be forced to choose between his health and liberty and will be forced to destroy all of the cannabis he has stored as of that date,” says his lawsuit.

“The plaintiff also believes that if his licensing is revoked his quality of life and health will suffer. Indeed, his life may be at risk from severe seizures or seizure-related injuries.

The second man, Timothy Sproule of Abbotsford, says he is disabled as a result of degenerative disc disease that’s exacerbated by multiple car accidents.

His license allows him to possess 1,080 grams of pot and his daily dosage is 42 grams. He is also allowed to produce 176 cannabis plants indoors and to store 7,920 grams of cannabis, he says.

The new law could require him to destroy 9,000 grams of pot that would otherwise be used as medicine for himself, he says.

The third man, Philip Newmarch, says he is disabled and suffers from a variety of conditions including severe arthritis and spinal-cord disease.

He is allowed to possess 5,010 grams of cannabis and his daily dosage is 167 grams. He is allowed to produce 813 cannabis plants and to store 36,585 grams of the drug.

On March 31, he could be required to destroy 40,000 grams of the drug, he says.

The three men are seeking a court declaration that the new law violates their rights and a court order that they be allowed to continue to possess their licences.

A Health Canada spokesman referred questions to the federal justice department, but a phone message left there seeking comment went unanswered.

Canada’s laws have allowed qualified patients to hold medicinal marijuana licences since 2001.

The new law establishing a commercial system for production and distribution of dried marijuana to qualified patients came into effect in July 2012.

Changes removing the right of qualified patients to produce cannabis for personal medicinal consumption go into effect April 1.

They also disallow possession and provision of cannabis in any form other than dried pot and impose limits on the quantity of dried pot that can be purchased at any one time from a licensed producer, according to the lawsuit.

kfraser "at" theprovince.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

Copyright (c) The Province

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon February 13, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

RDCO Board Minutes are not usually posted to RDCO's website until they have been adopted at the following board meeting which would be February 24, 2014.  If the minutes are not post here yet, you can check RDCO's website.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 13, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (4.10 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 13, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 7.1 Rural Health Services Research Network Of BC - .wma (296 KB)

Blue Divider Line

Confused and Frustrated - by Allan Hooper

A loss of $3.4 million to taxpayers, how did this happen??

Confused and Frustrated - by Allan Hooper
click article for a larger copy

Blue Divider Line

Click here to read the story of a young girl wrongly admitted to a Mental Facility in Colorado.  Its no different in the US than it is in Canada.

Blue Divider Line

One of the only licensed dermatologists in B.C.’s interior practices in Newfoundland
By Justin McElroy - Global News

Dr. Chris Sladden lives in Kamloops – but he doesn’t work here.

The dermatologist flies across the country to Newfoundland, where he sees patients for two weeks each month.

He says he earns more there than he would if he worked full time in BC.

“The value of medical dermatology has just lost its place in B.C.,” he argues.

Dr. Evert Tuyp, the President of the BC Section of Dermatology, believes more needs to be done to keep dermatologists in British Columbia.

“Come up with tangible solutions to deal with this problem,” he says.

Despite the fact that dermatologist received a $20,000 pay raise from the provincial government in the last round of negotiations, a shortage in the interior looms. Kamloops is down to one dermatologist and he’s retiring soon. As of December 31st, Prince George will apparently lose it’s dermatologist. There are no other practicing dermatologists in British Columbia outside Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, and the Lower Mainland.

Health Minister Terry Lake recently met with dermatologists about the shortage, and for his part, Dr. Sladden hopes a new deal will be cut that would compel him to work in this province.

“I have a commitment to where I am now,” he says, “[but] if things resolved here, I could see people tomorrow.”

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon November 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio November 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting - .mp3 (12.2 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about the entire Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update - .wma (24 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (Motion) - .wma (1.30 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (It appeals to Edgson that now RCMP can smell it and bust the door down without waiting) - .wma (194 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (Bear Creek and West Kelowna marijuana applications) - .wma (411 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (Chair Hobson's joke about marijuana) - .wma (246 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (1 marijuana application in COE and 2 marijuana applications in COW) - .wma (264 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (marijuana applications in COE and COW) - .wma (170 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (considerable difference between medical and recreational marijuana) - .wma (1.07 MB)

.pdf icon November 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Minutes

5. Community Services
Planning:

5.1 Update on the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) and Implications Regarding District Bylaws

Staff report dated November 4, 2013 outlined the background of the Federal governments enacted Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) for prescription, production and distribution of medical marijuana in Canada. The new regulations came into force on June 19, 2013 replacing the previous medical access regulations. Local governments are now faced with impacts to their regulations as it is expected a number of applications will be received for these new
businesses. The approaches will be varied across the province depending upon the type of setting of a local government (ie: rural vs urban). Staff provided options for consideration including the potential for amendments to the zoning bylaws.

Three official notices for medical marijuana have been received by staff-two in Electoral Area West and one in the Electoral Area East.

Staff reviewed the regulations proposed by the Federal government. It was noted that local governments cannot prohibit the use of a medical marijuana business.
The Agricultural Land Commission notes it is considered a farm use-it can be regulated, but not prohibited.

Options for moving forward were presented: status quo with current zoning or proceed with changes to the zoning bylaw to intensive agriculture. Staff is recommending the latter option. The following will be required: a business license; building permit; development permit may be required; and consultation with Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to determine if the operation falls within the agricultural use.

The question was raised whether applicants get approved prior to changes proposed? Yes, that is why staff recommends moving forward. If Health Canada issues a license before regulations are approved, the RDCO could end up with legal non-conforming uses.
• Will there be any provision for adequate services for the facilities. It will be up to the local government to have the applicant prove services required.
The subdivision bylaw would not necessarily apply.
• Who is liable if a contaminated water source occurs? Due to that concern as we move forward with bylaw amendments staff will include referrals to Health Canada, IHA, and provincial ministries to ensure concerns are captured.
• Staff noted that Health Canada advised that there is officially no cap on the number of licenses being issued or geographic restriction. Health Canada will be putting out a comprehensive fact sheet within the next few weeks.
License for these operations will not be issued until a building is complete and meets all the Federal requirements as well as local requirements. By December 2013 Health Canada will issue which licenses may be currently issued,
• Lake Country and West Kelowna are zoning facilities in industrial areas.
With the ALC ruling this may be challenged. Peachland is zoning within the ALR. Kelowna has not made a decision at this point.
• Concern may be odor issue for the facilities-will Health Canada provide regulations with this? Staff noted that the ALC Executive Director has toured a facility developed with the new regulations in place and they were not aware of what was being grown in the facility until they walked into the facility and saw the plants.
• The question is who will enforce the standard of a facility-this is not known at this time.
• The RCMP has been officially notified of the two potential sites-one in West Kelowna and one in Central Okanagan West.
• Within the RDCO there are very few industrial or commercial zoned properties.

EDGSON/BAKER
THAT the Governance & Services Committee recommends that the Regional Board receive for information the Update on the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations and Implications Regarding District Bylaws report of November 4, 2013;
AND FURTHER THAT staff be directed to proceed with an amendment to the electoral area zoning bylaws to permit medical marijuana grow operations as a form of "intensive agriculture".

CARRIED

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio November 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting - .mp3 (12.2 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about the entire Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update - .wma (24 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (Motion) - .wma (1.30 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (It appeals to Edgson that now RCMP can smell it and bust the door down without waiting) - .wma (194 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (Bear Creek and West Kelowna marijuana applications) - .wma (411 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (Chair Hobson's joke about marijuana) - .wma (246 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (1 marijuana application in COE and 2 marijuana applications in COW) - .wma (264 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (marijuana applications in COE and COW) - .wma (170 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files November 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update (considerable difference between medical and recreational marijuana) - .wma (1.07 MB)

Blue Divider Line

Safety issues at hospitals?
by Castanet Staff - Story: 103700 - Nov 28, 2013

An increasing number of patients from the Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s mental health program are walking away from the hospital without supervision, and some are causing harm.

In the last few months, Vernon RCMP say they have dealt with an alarming amount of mental health patient escapees that have caused harm to themselves, others and police officers.

“We know of a couple cases where individuals have harmed themselves (committed suicide), committed offences and in some cases have attacked our officers,” says Vernon RCMP Spokesman Gord Molendyk.

The hospital claims they are doing what they can.

“We continue to review our security within the building, how we can secure the unit and what we can do to improve the situation for the RCMP, and for our patients and for our staff,” said Vernon Jubilee Hospital Health Services Administrator Nancy Serwo.

Neighbourhoods around the hospital have had to deal with escaped patients who have caused some terrifying incidents.

An area resident who has lived near the hospital for over eight year says it is a problem he has personally witnessed.

“We had the RCMP find one of them hiding in the bushes right here beside the apartment block. Then we had another one with just his bare feet as though no one noticed,” shared Jack.

Back in October a Vernon family that lives near the hospital shared their ordeal with Castanet.

“It was a normal Saturday morning,” they wrote. “We were making pancakes when we noticed someone running through our yard.”

The family then says a woman in her twenties, completely naked, ran into their house without knocking.

The women allegedly ran into one of the bedrooms and starting putting on clothes and yelling that she had been raped.

The family said police arrived and when the woman attempted to flee she was tackled to the ground by police.

“Our hospital is not secure enough and that needs to change,” wrote the family.

“Our first priority is the patient’s wellbeing and to ensure they are receiving the appropriate care and treatment, so that is all about safety and wellbeing for the community as well as the patient,” defends Serwo.

Molendyk says the main issue is around an area that the patients are being allowed to visit during the day whether for smoking or fresh air that is not enclosed and is easy to walk away from.

“Some of them are being allowed to go to the edge of the property to smoke because it is an administrative thing that you are not supposed to smoke near the building so they allow them to the edge of the property to smoke and some of them just walk away,” explains Molendyk.

To which Serwo says the smoking area is not a major issue, “That is only in a small number of those cases.” she states.

The lack of security on these individuals is becoming a danger to both the public and to the patients.

“In a couple cases, a couple of these people were very dangerous and as a result one, for example, went out and committed a robbery,” says Molendyk. “A couple of them have actually taken steps to harm themselves and have been successful.”

“Anytime a patient leaves the facility against the advice of our medical professionals and in this case a psychiatrist, we take it extremely serious,” says Serwo, who would not comment on the cases where the patients had taken their own lives.

Serwo says these patients are being let out on passes because their doctors feel they are able to handle the absence from the hospital.

“Some of the mental health patients are given a pass to leave the hospital for a pre-determined amount of time and passes like these are issued by the patient’s psychiatrist and they’re an important part of the individual treatment plan so that they are able to gradually return to their roles and responsibilities in the community,” said Serwo.

“While a psychiatrist issues these passes when they feel a patient is able to manage this, there is always a possibility that the patient won’t return to the hospital,” she adds.

Serwo claims that there has not actually been a stark increase in the number of patients escaping, but rather an increase to how the RCMP is responding.

Molendyk says the community may have noticed an increase in missing persons’ reports in the area and that is because the RCMP is working with the hospital to get these individuals back to the hospital in the fastest, safest way possible.

“More and more of our calls for service (nationally) are actually dealing with individuals who do in fact suffer from some form of mental health issues and it is putting a greater strain on the police force,” adds Molendyk.

It seems clear to him that the current area designated for smoking is not working and putting the patients and public at risk.

“We have a major highway that runs right by there, so these individuals are very very close to traffic,” said Molendyk.

One woman actually jumped in front of a truck in front of the hospital this past September, causing the truck driver severe emotional trauma. The hospital says the woman was not coming from the hospital.

“We recognize that the RCMP is quite busy and we do regret having to call them, however in situations like this where a patient is vulnerable and may be at risk we appreciate their assistance,” explained Serwo.

“Then we have individuals going into the community looking for drugs or other avenues to deal with some of their issues which puts the residents and the officers at risk,” reiterates Molendyk.

WithIn a nine day period, these reports were issued by the RCMP (we have removed the names to protect patient privacy):

Nov. 23 - "Ms. H. left a medical facility without completing her treatment. Police are requesting assistance in locating H. so that she can receive necessary medical attention. She is possibly still wearing her hospital garments,” wrote Sgt. D.J. Wendland.

Nov. 19 - Vernon RCMP have issued a Medical Patient Apprehension Order for Ms. M. Ms. M. left a medical facility without completing her treatment. Police are requesting assistance in locating Ms. M. so that she can receive necessary medical attention. Police recommend that you do not approach this person, but rather contact the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP or call 911.

Nov. 15 - Vernon RCMP are requesting the public’s assistance in locating a 33-year-old Mr. R who left a medical facility without completing his treatment. Police recommend that you do not approach this person, who needs necessary medical attention and instead contact the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP or call 911.

Blue Divider Line

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon October 10, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the highlights about Director Item Robert Hobson saying there is a meeting about recruiting family physicians because it was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 10, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (15.5 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 10, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Recruitment of Family Physicians - .wma (566 KB)

.pdf icon October 10, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing was mentioned in the agenda about Director Item Robert Hobson saying there is a meeting about recruiting family physicians because it was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 10, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (15.5 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 10, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Recruitment of Family Physicians - .wma (566 KB)

.pdf icon October 10, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

10. DIRECTOR ITEMS

c) Chair Hobson noted that correspondence has been received regarding a meeting to support the recruitment of family physicians. A copy will be forwarded to the Directors if they wish to attend.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio October 10, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (15.5 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files October 10, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Recruitment of Family Physicians - .wma (566 KB)

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon July 29, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Hanson saying that Blood Donor Services needs more blood, because it was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio July 29, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (33.5 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 29, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Hanson saying that more blood is needed - .wma (241 KB)

.pdf icon July 29, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing was mentioned in the Agenda about Director Hanson saying that Blood Donor Services needs more blood, because it was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio July 29, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (33.5 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 29, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Hanson saying that more blood is needed - .wma (241 KB)

.pdf icon July 29, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

11. DIRECTOR ITEMS

b) Director Hanson noted that Blood services across Canada are down by 9000 units. Think about giving.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio July 29, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (33.5 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files July 29, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Hanson saying that more blood is needed - .wma (241 KB)

 

.pdf icon April 22, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Late Item 6.3 Letters of Support - Central Okanagan Sobering Centre

-------------------------------

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about a sobering center being added to the agenda - .wma (361 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about a sobering center - .wma ( KB)

There doesn't seem to be any audio about the Sobering Center on RDCO's website July 14, 2013, just that it was added to the agenda, so we sent RDCO an email asking about it.

.pdf icon April 22, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon  There are no Agenda documents in regard to Late Item 6.3 Letters of Support - Central Okanagan Sobering Centre

-------------------------------

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about a sobering center being added to the agenda - .wma (361 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about a sobering center - .wma ( KB)

There doesn't seem to be any audio about the Sobering Center on RDCO's website July 14, 2013, just that it was added to the agenda, so we sent RDCO an email asking about it.

.pdf icon April 22, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Minutes

ADDITION OF LATE ITEMS

6.3 Letters of Support - Central Okanagan Sobering Centre

================

6.3 Letters of Support - Central Okanagan Sobering Centre

Social Development Coordinator, Christene Walsh, presented the Board with letters of support for the establishment of a sobering centre in the Central Okanagan.

FINDLATER/FIELDING
THAT the letters of support for the establishment of a sobering centre in the Central Okanagan be forwarded to the Interior Health Authority and local MLAs for information and continuing support of a sobering centre within the Central Okanagan.

CARRIED

-------------------------------

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about a sobering center being added to the agenda - .wma (361 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about a sobering center - .wma ( KB)

There doesn't seem to be any audio about the Sobering Center on RDCO's website July 14, 2013, just that it was added to the agenda, so we sent RDCO an email asking about it.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon April 22, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Item 5.1 Central Okanagan Division Of Family Practice

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio April 22, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (25.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Central Okanagan Division Of Family Practice - .wma (15.2 MB)

.pdf icon April 22, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon  Item 5.1 Central Okanagan Division Of Family Practice

Delegation to the Regional Board

The Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice (DoFP) has requested an opportunity to make a presentation to the RDCO Board.

The DoFP presentation will be aimed at informing local government leaders of the proposed collaborative multi stakeholder effort toward "Improving Community Health in the Central Okanagan". This presentation is a follow-up to a stakeholder discussion and dialogue meeting that was held on March 13th which included representatives from the City of Kelowna, UBC-O
Medical School, IHA, RDCO, etc. -I have since received information regarding the announcement of a local government grant program that supports Healthy Communities Capacity Building with up to $5000 per local government available - in our Central Okanagan community this could represent an opportunity for up to $25,000 in capacity building funding.

The proposed DoFP G&S presentation is intended to provide information only and will be supported by a delegation from the Division of Family Practice including Tristan Smith (Executive Director), Dr. Roger Crittenden, Dr. Mark Fromberg and Dr. Mike Koss.

Murray Kopp
Director - Regional Parks

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio April 22, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (25.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Central Okanagan Division Of Family Practice - .wma (15.2 MB)

.pdf icon April 22, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Minutes

5. DELEGATION

5.1 Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice - "Improving Community Health in the Central Okanagan" - Mr. Tristan Smith, Executive Director, Dr. Gayle Klammer, Board Chair; Dr. Mike Koss and Dr. Mark Fromberg

The Division of Family Practice presentation was aimed at informing local government leaders of the proposed collaborative multi stakeholder effort toward "Improving Community Health in the Central Okanagan". This presentation is a follow-up to a stakeholder discussion and dialogue meeting that was held on March 13th which included representatives from the City of Kelowna, UBC-O Medical School, IHA, RDCO, etc. It was noted that RDCO has received information regarding a local government grant program that supports Healthy Communities Capacity Building with up to $5,000 per local government available in our Central Okanagan community.

Staff noted that a number of years ago, the RDCO Parks department became involved in education programs including back to nature, healthy by nature, IHA initiatives and with this in mind, the department has become engaged with local practitioners. Preliminary workshops have been undertaken (two to date) with the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice (CODFP) taking the lead on this initiative.

Dr. Klammer addressed the Board providing an overview of what the division is and who they represent. A non-profit organization, supported by the BC Medical Association and supported by doctors who are in the front line of care in the
community meeting together to provide one voice. Started in the summer of 2010. Membership consists of 177 family doctors from Peachland to Lake Country. The goal is to improve the care of patients by working with partners.

Working on 14 initiatives together such as: emergent access to imaging, improvement to gastroenterology services, pilot project improvement to access to mental health (within 4 weeks), and health promotion.

Dr. Koss addressed the Board noting that for a long time doctors got paid by treating illness--preventive counselling fees are now being paid to assist in 'preventative medicine'. Doctors are trying to prevent illness instead of treating illness with a focus on diet and exercise. The goal is to re-establish the family doctor as a source of information for preventing illness. Exercise includes using parks, trails, etc. The groups dream is to have a website with a variety of information as a resource tool (where to go for an activity, farm to table system, working on healthier eating on a budget, diet and nutrition information). Dr. Fromberg addressed the Board noting they are trying to connect with various community services and work with resources in the community with a goal to make the Central Okanagan as one of 'Canada's healthiest communities'. At this time the group is only looking for endorsement to project.

Discussion:
- The question was raised whether funding is required? The primary goal is not to ask for funding? Tristan Smith addressed the Board noting that funds have been set aside in their budget but as the 'health coalition' comes together that they will develop a business case for future funding requirements. An application is going in through the City of Kelowna for the Healthy Communities Capacity Building funding.
- Staff noted that the BC Healthy Communities is funded through the Province and has made this funding available to the health authorities in BC--$40,000 to each health authority. A coalition is being formed with IHA, City of Kelowna, CODFP, etc. to apply for a single grant for the Central Okanagan.
- It was noted that the District of Peachland has applied for the Healthy Communities Capacity Building funding for a project within their community.
- The other communities will be asked to provide a letter of support for this initiative and funding application.
- It was noted the CODFP is currently funded by the division of family practice.
- The CODFP will update the Board in a year on the progress of the Okanagan Health Coalition.

GRAY/FINDLATER
THAT the presentation by the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice on Improving Community Health in the Central Okanagan be received for information;
AND FURTHER THAT the Regional Board supports the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice and the Okanagan Health Coalition of partners in working towards the Central Okanagan becoming one of 'Canada's Healthiest Communities' and further
support a RDCO funding submission to the BC Healthy Communities Capacity Building Fund to assist this initiative.

CARRIED

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio April 22, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (25.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Central Okanagan Division Of Family Practice - .wma (15.2 MB)

Blue Divider Line

$440K after mom poisoned at hospital
Castanet.net - by The Canadian Press - Story: 94655 - Jul 5, 2013

Vernon Jubilee Hospital

BC Supreme Court has confirmed a $440,000-settlement for the family of an Alberta mother of four who was accidentally poisoned at Vernon's hospital.

Forty-year-old Brenda Gaida died in 2007 when she was given excessive doses of methotrexate, a drug that can be used to treat cancer patients, at Vernon's Jubilee Hospital for a pre-existing skin condition while on vacation with her family.

According to court documents, Gaida was mistakenly given the medication daily rather than weekly.

After spending 16 days at the hospital, her family arranged for her to be flown to a hospital near her home in Edmonton, where she died two months later.

The Vernon hospital and the Interior Health Authority, admitted that Gaida died from poisoning, and that four doctors were at fault for negligent care and treatment.

Court documents say the parties sought a settlement in 2011, and while the hospital said both sides had agreed to $440,000, Gaida's husband Brian Gaida said no binding settlement had ever been concluded.

Gaida, who had wanted a settlement of more than $1 million, said his former lawyer urged him to accept the $440,000 because it was likely the most he could get.

The a high school teacher said he "just gave in," and said yes. But he told the lawyer immediately after that he was concerned, and that the $440,000 would only be acceptable if certain conditions, such as a breakdown of the offer, were met.

"I sincerely felt and believe that I was unreasonably pressured and rushed into accepting the defendants' proposal of $440,000 without the benefit of information that was important to me and the time to thoroughly consider my position," he said in an affidavit.

According to Gaida, the lawyer defied his instructions and accepted the offer, leaving him to feel like his concerns were ignored.

"It must be emphasized that when Brenda was dying in the Vernon Hospital, all of my efforts to voice my concerns about her plight to hospital and medical staff were simply not heard or understood. The 'experts' all knew what was appropriate for her care. I was just a husband," he said in the affidavit.

"Sadly, my experience with the settlement negotiations was rather similar. I felt my concerns were simply not heard or understood. I was just a claimant unsophisticated in the complexities of the law."

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Pearlman found that there was no misapprehension or defiance on the lawyer's part, and has ruled that the settlement agreement is enforceable.

Gaida's current lawyer, Rosanna Saccomani, said the woman's death six years ago has been devastating for her four kids, who range in age from 13 to 22.

"When Brenda Gaida died, she was 40 years of age and she left a very young family," said Saccomani. "To grow up without the love and care and guidance of your mother, it's very difficult to quantify what kind of loss that means for these children."

Court documents say the woman had developed a non-life threatening condition in 2001 that caused open sores to form on her skin. The family was on holiday in the Okanagan in 2007 when her skin became inflamed and she went to the hospital.

Gaida said in his affidavit that hospital staff appeared not to take his wife's condition seriously, and ignored his concerns about the quality of care.

"Contrary to their assertions, Brenda's condition continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate," the affidavit said.

"She soon could no longer eat or speak due to the many large open sores in her mouth and throat," he said. "Never in my life have I felt so helpless."

When Gaida was transported to the Edmonton hospital, the chief of the intensive care unit told Brian that Gaida had been given a significant overdose of methotrexate during her time in the Vernon hospital, and that it may not have been detected because staff did not do adequate blood work.

The daily dosage caused "irreparable harm to Brenda's immune system," and destroyed her white blood cell count. Soon after, Gaida suffered from multi-organ failure and a heart attack, leaving her in a comatose state.

"I maintained a bed side vigil and have never prayed so hard and for so long in my life pleading with God for a miracle," he said in the affidavit.

No one from the Interior Health Authority was available for comment.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon February 25, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item b) Interior Heart &Surgical Centre - IHSC (KGH) because this was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 25, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (26.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 25, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item b) Interior Heart & Surgical Centre - IHSC (KGH) - .wma (965 KB)

.pdf icon February 25, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing was mentioned in the Agenda about Director Item b) Interior Heart &Surgical Centre - IHSC (KGH) because this was a Director Item

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 25, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (26.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 25, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item b) Interior Heart & Surgical Centre - IHSC (KGH) - .wma (965 KB)

.pdf icon February 25, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Minutes

12. DIRECTOR ITEMS

b) Interior Heart &Surgical Centre - IHSC (KGH)

Chair Hobson noted that further correspondence had been forwarded to the Province and our MLAs confirming the Hospital Board's continued interest in funding an additional floor to the IHSC. IHA has confirmed that unfortunately the drop dead date for changes to its plan was February 1st.

Physical changes to the plan could be done up to April 1st but there would be significant cost increases and timing of the completion. It is suggested that the Board focus its efforts on other areas of health.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 25, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (26.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 25, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item b) Interior Heart & Surgical Centre - IHSC (KGH) - .wma (965 KB)

Blue Divider Line

Speak up about health care
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 82645 - Nov 1, 2012

The West Kelowna Residents Association (WKRA) is appealing to all Westside residents (West Kelowna, Peachland and WFN) for assistance in identifying gaps and problems with existing health care services on the Westside.

WKRA has been asked to gather this feedback on behalf of Joanne Konnert, the consultant hired by the District of West Kelowna to prepare a report on a proposed Westside Health Facility.

“Many of us have personal knowledge of the challenges with access to health care services on the Westside”, says Ron Green, a director with the West Kelowna Resident’s Association.

“Whether it relates to transportation or to cardiology, radiology, laboratory, wound care, home care, respiratory or any other health care service. The need to address this issue is growing more critical every day.”

All Westside residents are urged to provide their personal stories, concerns and feedback regarding health care on the Westside by visiting the WKRA website at www.wkra.ca and using the “Contact Us” link or by emailing ucc "at" wkra.ca.

The deadline for presentation of the public’s input is November 30th, so that Ms. Konnert may use it in her report to the District of West Kelowna Mayor and Council in December.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon June 25, 2012 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

There was nothing mentioned in the Highlights about no 8 million grant money being available for Kelowna Hospital or about the new heart surgery machine

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio June 25, 2012 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (98.6 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files June 25, 2012 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about no grant money being available for Kelowna Hospital or about the new heart surgery machine - .wma (692 KB)

.pdf icon June 25, 2012 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

11. DIRECTOR ITEMS

11.1 Interior Heart & Surgical Centre

Chair Hobson noted that the Province (Treasury Board) has again turned down the offer of the Regional Hospital Board to fund an additional floor of the Interior Heart & Surgical Centre and that this request will not be reconsidered.

The Board expressed its dismay that the Province has turned down the offer to fund the additional floor of the Centre which would have provided additional space, which they believe will be required, to service the future medical needs of the people of the Central Okanagan.

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio June 25, 2012 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (98.6 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files June 25, 2012 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about no grant money being available for Kelowna Hospital or about the new heart surgery machine - .wma (692 KB)

Blue Divider Line

Interior Health Authority fails to meet provincial wait time targets
by Hayley Cooper - AM1150 - 2/7/2012

For a second straight year, The Interior Health Authority has failed to meet provincial wait time targets.

"So, the provincial target is that no more than 10 per cent of our patients are waiting greater than 26 weeks for hips and knees and no more than 10 per cent are waiting greater than 16 weeks for cataract surgery."

Chief Financial Officer with the IH, Donna Lommer says 15 per cent of people listed for hip surgeries and 17 per cent of peoplelisted for knee surgeries are waiting longer than 26 weeks.

Lommer says the IH is being penalized 3 million dollars for failing to meet the provincial targets.

Blue Divider Line

$3.4 million in penalties for I.H.A.
AM 1150 - 2/7/2012

Keeping patients waiting too long for hip, knee and cataract surgery has cost the Interior Health Authority millions of dollars in funding.

The Globe and Mail reports that Interior Health lost $3.4 million dollars as a punishment for not meeting wait-list targets set by the Government of B.C..

The province penalized three of the B.C.'s five health districts for missing the targets and witheld a total of almost $7 million dollars which were instead put into general revenues.

Blue Divider Line

With the recent scandals around health care card - it is important that all of us send a clear message to Victoria

* Did you know that your MSP Premiums could be used for Rapid Transit Construction in Vancouver instead of Health Care
* Did you know that the province could loose another $1.3 Billion if Minister de Jong does not expedite health care cards with photo ID within a year
* Did you know that there are 9.1 million health care cards and only 4.5 Million BC residents and that the system is abused by non paying non BC residents who come to BC for free operations and hospital services.


Read all about it in StandupBC and click the following Is Indictment for BC Liberals warranted?

VJH floors to remain empty
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - October 12, 2011

Any hopes that new acute care beds will get the green light Thursday have been dashed.

Health Minister Michael de Jong will be at the official opening of the Polson tower but he will not make an announcement about completion of the two upper floors to alleviate ongoing congestion.

“We are making progress and identifying ways to address capacity issues,” de Jong told The Morning Star.

He anticipates that a decision on acute care beds will be made early in the new year.

“Capital funding is challenging but it must be funded operationally year-after-year,” he said of the two floors.

“It’s a case of trying to find money when it’s scarce and there are competing needs across the province.”

The price tag to develop both floors could be $20 million, and then $20 million would be needed annually to operate the floors (with 30 beds each).

“I am relatively hopeful and confident we can do it,” said de Jong.

VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but on average, there are 164 patients daily. As a result, there have been patients in the halls and surgeries cancelled.

Doctors have insisted both floors, at 30 beds each, are required to alleviate overcrowding. However, de Jong says the projected cost could lead to only one floor possibly being done at a time.

“If you are a physician, you want as much as you can get, but I have to be mindful of the cost and what the numbers say about capacity,” he said.

De Jong has been the focus of intense lobbying from Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster, municipal councils, residents, physicians and nurses.

A 6,033-name petition demanding completion of the two floors was recently presented to de Jong.

“The message has been heard and MLA Foster has said this is the No. 1 priority of the region,” said de Jong.

Doctors claim the new tower has done little to ease overcapacity issues.

“Since opening day, admitted patients continue to be held in emergency stretchers due to the inadequate number of acute care beds,” said Michael Concannon, an emergency room physician.

“Given the continued severity of the dire overcrowding problem at VJH, we are hopeful that a solution — completion of the two acute care floors — will be announced sooner, rather than later by our provincial government.”

Rally for hospital beds
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 64291 - Sep 5, 2011

Photo: Contributed - Stephanie Dryhurst

Former Okanagan-Shuswap Member of Parliament Darrel Stinson.

There might be a new tower open at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, but residents say it is still not enough and the top two floors are not complete.

The parking lot in front of the new VJH Polson Tower was crowded with former patients and local provincial representatives, Monday afternoon, in a grass roots attempt to send a message to the B.C. government that there is desperate need for acute care beds.

Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick says people need to support the project and get involved.

“Send letters and e-mails to the Premier to have the top two floors completed. Our population has outpaced the number of beds available, and with the aging population we will be playing a catch up game to keep up with the needs of long term beds.”

Scheduled to open September 25 the new tower will not include an increase in acute hospital beds.

VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but usually there are up to 165 patients daily.

Former Okanagan-Shuswap Member of Parliament Darrel Stinson knows about the situation in Vernon first hand and spoke about his experiences at the rally.

Stinson, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, says he has never been to a hospital like Vernon, a code purple. The code means the hospital is suddenly overwhelmed by the number of patients awaiting emergency medical attention.


Photo: Contributed - Stephanie Dryhurst

Kelly Collins a former patient

“There were people in hallways, I was bumping into their beds. Something is drastically wrong, there is no privacy and it has to change.”

The cost to complete the towers could be about $10 million for each of the floors and then another $10 million annually to operate each of the floors.

The Master of Ceremonies for the day’s rally was Jim Hart who equated the top two floors of the tower to the TV show Extreme Makeover.

“Except when the crowd yells ‘move that bus’, the family goes into their newly renovated home only to find that there aren’t any beds.”

Many people who had been patients of VJH, such as Kelly Collins, gathered around with signs to show their disgust with the lack of acute care beds at the hospital.

“I have spent time in the hospital on many occasions in hallways and closets. Where has all the money gotten to?”

Nurses, doctors and hospital staff also attended the rally.

Families receive a new standard of patient care at RJH
July 6, 2011

VICTORIA – The $348.6-million Patient Care Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital officially opened today, bringing a new standard of care for all Vancouver Island families.

click news release to read this section that is not posted here

Quick Facts:

The Patient Care Centre was completed on Dec. 31, 2010 – with patient occupancy on March 13, 2011. When the Patient Care Centre opened on March 13, 260 beds were ready. When all mental-health patients are transferred to the new facility, the total occupied bed count will be 360. The full 500 beds are expected to be in use by 2020. The Patient Care Centre is a public-private partnership between VIHA and ISL Health. The total project cost is $348.6 million – with $222.4 million from the Province, $107.7 million from the Capital Regional Hospital District, and $18.5 million from the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. The Patient Care Centre is the first Pacific Green hospital in Canada. The project includes a new $12.1-million energy centre which provides power, medical gases, water and other utilities for the 23 existing Royal Jubilee Hospital facilities, as well as the new Patient Care Centre.
The two new generators provide 50 per cent more power using the same amount of fuel, produce fewer emissions and are 30 per cent quieter. The Patient Care Centre is 38,000 square metres (412,000 square feet) in size. At the peak of construction, 725 people were employed on the project – with the majority of them from the Greater Victoria area.


Learn More:
For more information on the project, visit: www.viha.ca/patient_care_centre
Media Contacts:
Ryan Jabs
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)
Shannon Marshall
VIHA Communications
250 370-8270
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connec

Seniors Healthcare Solution

Blue Divider Line

Castanet.net Poll

December 30, 2010 - 2080 votes
Are hospital wait times in the Okanagan acceptable
Yes: 536
No: 1544

Blue Divider Line

'Tech-tattoo' could have gaming, health-care benefits
By Beatrice Fantoni, Postmedia News - August 11, 2011

Electronics that stick and stretch like a temporary tattoo.

click image for a larger picture
Photograph by: Handout, John Rogers

You don't have to look like a Star Trek Borg to wear skin-mounted electronics.

A team of scientists and engineers at the University of Illinois has developed a "smart skin" that can be used to connect wearers to the cyber-world as easily as sticking on a temporary tattoo.

The smart skin can monitor your heart rate or brain waves, for example, or detect the electric activity in muscle contractions and send the signals to a computer, without stick-on electrodes, bulky wires, conductive gels, tape or skin-penetrating pins.

Just a few centimetres wide and thinner than a human hair, the smart skin could make monitoring people's physiological status more comfortable and more accurate than using electrodes because it stays stuck to the skin and doesn't interfere with the wearer's movement, the researchers say.

"Wires and patches are not the best way to do things," said John Rogers, a professor of material science and engineering at the University of Illinois, who led the research.

Rogers and his team used tiny, flexible wires comparable to those in silicone circuits, and see-through silicone to make a fine mesh circuit that can stick on with water. It bends, wrinkles and stretches with the skin. It detects what's happening underneath the surface and sends signals to a computer.

These "wearable electronics" are described in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Imagine video gaming with just a temporary tattoo and your voice. By wearing the smart skin on your throat, Rogers said, the patch can read the electrical activity of the muscle contractions when you say "up," "down," "left," or "right" and send the command to the game.

The uses for the product in the health field are more compelling. As with a video game, people could use the smart skin to send commands to a prosthetic device, Rogers said. It could help develop new and less cumbersome technology to help people who cannot speak.

Smart skin patches could make it easier to monitor newborn babies or people with sleep disorders because they are gentler than stick-on, point-contact electrodes and you can't feel them, Rogers said.

There might also be a use for the smart skin in physical rehabilitation, Rogers added. "You can imagine . . . a device that laminates onto a portion of muscle that is atrophied or onto a wound site and can electrically stimulate muscle contraction," he said.

While it's still "early days," Rogers said he and his colleagues are already working to fine-tune the smart skin for clinical use.

At the same time, they are developing the smart skin's Wi-Fi capabilities so the patches can connect to a monitoring device without the need for ribbon cables.

bfantoni "at" postmedia.com

Twitter.com/bfantoni

Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon May 12, 2011 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting

Regional Hospital District Spending Bylaws

The Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District Board has adopted ten bylaws authorizing spending totaling $1,736,000 for its 40% share of capital equipment and projects within the Health Region. Among the projects, updates to the nurse call systems at Kelowna General Hospital and Brookhaven Extended Care Centre and new buses for the David Lloyd Jones and Three Links Manor facilities.

-------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio May 12, 2011 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting .mp3 (43.6 MB)

Windows Media File Icon May 12, 2011 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about the Hospital District - .wma (176 KB)

Windows Media File Icon May 12, 2011 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Hospital Infections - .wma (1.33 MB)

Windows Media File Icon May 12, 2011 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about adoption of the 10 bylaws in one motion - .wma (328 KB)

Blue Divider Line

B.C. launches lawsuits to recover health costs
CBC News Canada - The Canadian Press - May 22, 2011

The B.C. government has launched thousands of lawsuits to recover health costs. (Jeff McIntosh/Associated Press)
It started with an innocent walk across the street — George Kripner was hit by a vehicle driven by an alleged drunk driver, setting off a lawsuit that involves neither Kripner nor the man behind the wheel.

A B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit filed this week is one of almost 300 cases launched every month by the provincial government in order to recover health-care costs of the person injured.

The suits are similar to those filed by provinces against tobacco companies to recover the costs associated with providing health care to smokers. But instead of a massive suit against one company, these suits involve thousands of smaller claims against municipalities, restaurants and bars, insurance firms and individuals.

Since the Health Care Cost Recovery Act took effect April 1, 2009, almost 3,000 cases have been closed, with a cost recovery of $6.2 million for the province. Another 5,300 cases remain open.

Most of the cases settled up to now are retroactive to the implementation of the legislation, said Michelle Stewart, communications director for the B.C. Ministry of Health.

"As a greater number of cases being settled involve a more recent accident date, we anticipate that recoveries will increase," she said in an email exchange.

Municipality, pub named in lawsuit

The Insurance Bureau of Canada couldn't say immediately if the growing caseload would have an impact on those purchasing insurance protection.

That act obligates lawyers and insurers to notify the government any time a lawsuit is filed where someone was injured and went through B.C.'s health-care system.

The Health Ministry could then join the legal action or launch its own court case, as it has done in Kripner's case.

Both the Corporation of Delta and the ONE20 Pub and Suburban Grill are named as defendants in the civil court action.

The lawsuit alleges Delta was responsible because it failed to provide adequate lighting and didn't have a marked crosswalk where the accident happened.

Negligence is alleged against the ONE20 Pub for failing to stop the driver from over consumption of alcohol.

The province wants to recover the costs of nursing Kripner through a traumatic brain injury and 16 broken bones.

Taxpayers to bear costs

Greg Vanstone, in-house counsel for the Corporation of Delta, hasn't seen the notice of civil claim yet, but said it would be the first case of its kind to cross his desk.

However he has been expecting to see such a lawsuit since the legislation was enacted. Vanstone said the act is simply another cost taxpayers would have to bear, not to mention the cost of fighting the claim in court.

"It will add to the damages payable by Delta, if we are found liable and only if, and we vigorously defend all claims made against us," he said.

The act doesn't include those injured in car accidents or in workers compensation claims.

Gregory Thomas, the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said it's a good idea for the province to try to hold someone to account in situations where the province has paid for health care.

Province should target gang members

In fact, Thomas suggested the province should go after gang members convicted in a spate of shootings that sent a jolt of fear through Metro Vancouver from 2007 to 2009.

While many were killed, Thomas said there were also millions worth of injuries while ER departments went into high gear to save people who were shot.

"If you're amassing millions of dollars of illegal profits through criminal activity then absolutely, somebody needs to go after that money because the impact they're having on the health-care system is tremendous," Thomas said.

Stewart said the government does have the power under the legislation to pursue those who committed a crime where health care costs were incurred.

Jim Poyner was the lawyer on a class-action lawsuit involving mechanical heart valves where the provincial government needed to be informed.

While the class settled, Poyner said the provincial government continued its court action against the heart valve designer and manufacturer for financial compensation.

Poyner doesn't see the legislation as negative.

"There are costs that are occasioned by our health system and why that shouldn't be recovered doesn't make any sense to me," he said.

Blue Divider Line

Is VJH's New Tower Enough?
April 3, 2011 - Vernon Morning Star - Is VJH's New Tower Enough?
click article for larger copy

 

Code Purple at Vernon Jubilee Hospital Every day
Every day is code purple at Vernon Jubilee Hospital - Vernon Morning Star Letter to the Editor March 13, 2011
click article for larger copy

 

Need more beds, even with a new tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital
Need more beds even with a new tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital
click article for larger copy

Blue Divider Line

Dr. Oz said on his TV show May 13, 2010 that a crease in your earlobe is a sign of heart disease.

Blue Divider Line

This information about Strokes came by email

remember the '3' steps, STR

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by
asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.
T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE, coherently. (i.e. It is sunny out today.)
R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.


If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks,
call emergency number immediately and describe the
symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue

NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person
to 'stick' out his tongue.... If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other, that is
also an indication of a stroke.

Blue Divider Line

All I have to do is look at my pocketbook to see government mismanagement of funds.

Blue Divider Line

What is “Mental Health”?

The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of mental ‘health’ is “a state of well-being ~

- in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities,
- can cope with the normal stresses of life,
- can work productively and fruitfully,
- and, is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Blue Divider Line

Health Canada Exposed

MEDICARE SCHMEDICARE from Knowledge Network
Is one tier Medicare a myth? As the country languishes in the debate whether to move to a parallel private health care system, Medicare Schmedicare takes the unorthodox stance that two tier health care is already here.

The wait list for surgery is long.  If you sign a waiver saying that your surgery is not necessary, you have the option to pay for your surgery yourself and get your healthcare sooner.  The False Creek clinic in Vancouver is one place you can buy your healthcare sooner.  You have the option to pay for your surgery yourself in the U.S. as well.

Blue Divider Line

May 20, 2010 - There are big wait lists for MRI's

This 28 year old man in a neck brace to his shoulders who was hit by a car has to wait about 14 months for an MRI.  Send a message to the health minister Colin Hanson or the premier Gordon Campbell if you think this is too long to wait.  Seen this news story with link on CHBC news May 20, 2010

http://www.stopthewait.ca/bug_politician.php?fade=true

Blue Divider Line

Tower of care preparing for September opening
Vernon Morning Star - March 04, 2011

Much of the work on the new patient care tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital is in the final stages as the new building, which towers over the old building, prepares to open Sept. 26.
Jennifer Smith/Morning Star

With only 10 weeks to go before contractors hand over the keys to the new Vernon Jubilee Hospital patient care tower, the public face of the structure has been taking on a new look recently.

The timber frame structure that will support the canopy over the main public entrance is now in place, and the entrance to the new emergency department has also been completed.

“You’ll also notice the links between the tower and the existing building are finished on the outside,” said Cam McAlpine, with the Interior Health Authority.

“Wander indoors and you’ll see the finishing touches being put on the corridors that will link the two buildings.”

The finishing of the interior of the building is moving ahead. Millwork, flooring and painting are almost complete throughout. Reviews are being conducted of the work done to date on the lower floors as Interior Health and Infusion Health ensure everything is built to high standards.

Major medical equipment, such as operating room and exam room lights, is being installed, as are OR booms. Most of the major equipment for the medical device reprocessing department has arrived and is being installed. Commissioning – putting into operation – of mechanical and electrical systems is well underway.

“The commissioning of the computer and technology systems is also in process, and the pneumatic tube system that will allow rapid sharing of test results and information between departments has now been linked from the new tower to the existing hospital,” said McAlpine.

“Weekly tours are being conducted for staff and physicians who will be working in the new tower to familiarize themselves with the new spaces and processes.”

The summer will be spent installing equipment and ensuring all staff, physicians and volunteers are fully-oriented to the new tower.

“The extensive training is necessary so that when the first patient walks through the doors Sept. 26, there will be no noticeable difference in patient care,” said McAlpine.

Blue Divider Line

Reminder to watch for ticks.  Ticks are active in the Spring.  If you are bitten by a tick you could get a very nasty serious and expensive disease called Lyme Disease.  Here is a good photo of a tick.

It is false rumour to poke a tick in the behind with a hot needle to get it to back out of the hole it may have made in your body.

How to remove a tick.

Blue Divider Line

Telus seeking to connect doctors, patients and medical info
By SCOTT SIMPSON, Vancouver Sun March 11, 2011

BC-based telecom see growing interest in online health records.

As the globe-hopping CEO of a leading international polling company, Angus Reid has a unique perspective on an emerging health care debate in Canada.

The West Vancouver resident, now 63, likes the idea of having his personal health record at his fingertips — because, well, you never know when the fast-paced public life he has led since 1979 is going to catch up with him.

“I travel to Paris, London. I’m in Cabo San Lucas right now. We have an office in Sydney,” the head of Vision Critical said in phone interview this week. “I’m a 63-year-old CEO who’s on the road a lot and you never know when you are going to want to have access to all of your medical records.”

Reid is enthused about a national project launched recently by Canadian telecom giant Telus, which is making a groundbreaking push into the Canadian health care realm by creating a secure service that connects smartphone and other Internet users to their personal health care records.

Telus Health Space, powered by Microsoft’s HealthVault, is in the process of a Quebec pilot launch, and will be rolled out in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario beginning next month.

Health Space will give consumers the ability to create, store and manage family health information — anything from a conventional medical history to archiving blood tests by diabetics and reporting that information daily to a family physician.

For an elderly patient or a caregiver, Health Space looks like an ideal vehicle to maintain an accurate and current record of visits to family doctors, specialists, hospitals — and their respective instructions on diet, exercise, rest, medication and ailments.

“I’m lucky in the sense that I don’t have high blood pressure,” Reid said. “I have a friend who died of a heart attack a week or so ago. I don’t know if it would have made any difference, but arriving at a clinic in a place like Mexico, and then being able to go online and look at your last EKG results — why not?”

Telus last month announced that Wolf Medical Systems, which already provides electronic medical records software for 1.5 million British Columbians, will support Health Space in B.C.

Reid’s own doctors, at Continuum Medical Care in West Vancouver, have indicated they’re onside, and believe that giving patients control of their own medical data will lower the cost of health care without compromising its quality.

“If it’s going to take a smaller clinic in West Vancouver like Continuum to lead the way, so be it,” Reid said. “Really, this is something that should be available, will be available, in the next five to 10 years to all Canadians, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

“The country is aging. We are going to be moving in the course of the next 15 years from about 12 per cent of Canadians who are over 65 to something like 18 per cent who are over 65.

“It’s not just those over 65, it’s those approaching their 50s as well. The issue of prevention and all that becomes critical. I think people are much more health-conscious than they ever were. Any physician will tell you these days that if you’ve got a patient coming to see you, the chances are if they’ve got some condition they’ve already Googled it to death and we have a much more informed patient.”

Dr. Bryce Kelpin, Reid’s physician, couldn’t be happier. He said he has been pressing Wolf Medical “for about five years now” to support this kind of medical care innovation in Canada. It’s already available in other parts of the world.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years and it has all been part of the vision we had for our clinic — ultimately, using technology to deliver better patient care and at the same time do that in a very cost-effective manner,” Kelpin said in a recent interview at Continuum’s offices along Marine Drive in West Vancouver.

“There are a lot of things we can do once we have a digitized medical record, once we have a way to move that record around and shift it to patients and to other health care providers and other facilities.”

He sees value to patients in terms of convenience for them as well as improving the quality of care they can receive.

“We use our smartphones and iPads and everything for all kinds of other things in our lives — it’s not necessary, but it sure makes our lives easier to do that.

“Communicating with a patient, with another doctor, with another diagnostic facility in many ways can help improve their care, and to provide care more efficiently and more effectively.”

One potential snag is that, so far, the provincial government hasn’t developed a mechanism to ensure that clinics offering enhanced services get paid for the extra work that entails.

“With a lot of the stuff we do right now, the only way we can get paid in the office is to look at the whites of somebody’s eyes,” Kelpin said. “There are a lot of things we could do by phone.

“It’s important that we start to look at these things, because there just aren’t enough family doctors around right now.

“Something like a [web] portal and the Health Space makes it possible to keep an elderly person in their home, not having to come into my office. They can be monitored remotely.”

Dr. Brendan Byrne, president and founder of Wolf Medical, says he’s “excited from the standpoint of starting to see the power of health information being put right into patients’ hands.”

“We’ve got over a million and a half patients that have records in Wolf Systems. We are going to make it easy for the physicians to extend out and offer this connection and then the patients will start to upgrade themselves to Health Space.

“The physician record obviously has a great deal of importance from a medical, legal and professional standpoint for the physician. But you’ve got to empower the patient around their health condition.

“I kind of joke about this when I’m out with friends. Our current health system is a bit like going to your financial adviser who would be hiding the computer screen from you and saying, ‘Yeah, your stock portfolio is doing okay, not bad’ — and you don’t have the data.

“None of us can imagine not having the data on our financial information, yet when it comes to our health information, we go into the office and the doc pats you on the back and says, ‘Your lipids are okay.’ We walk out feeling great — but we don’t know what his version of okay was.

“One of the links we are exploring with Telus is, at what point do you create thresholds and triggers that send alerts back to your family doctor in regards to something that’s going off track.”

Francois Cote, president of Telus Health Solutions, noted that health care is a $224-billion industry in Canada, and that it’s “not a bad idea” for Telus to focus on that industry.

“There is so much money being spent. There has got to be optimization.”

The percentage of doctors using electronic medical records in some Scandinavian countries is above 90 or even 95 per cent.

In B.C., 40 per cent of doctors have gone digital — “and by the way, that’s the highest penetration in this country.”

“This is the largest industry in this country, and in the U.S., and globally, by far. We are doing a multipronged approach where we are working with partners because Telus cannot do it alone.

“It will have a meaningful impact for all the stakeholders — you, the pharmacist, the physician, and the hospital administrators.”

ssimpson at vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

Cramped hospital concerns MLA
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - Published: February 08, 2011

MLA Eric Foster insists he’s pushing the government to address over-crowding at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Foster says he was concerned to hear about 192 patients admitted to the hospital Feb. 3 and 11 elective surgeries cancelled. There are 148 funded beds at VJH.

“I’ve been lobbying hard to open more beds and I will keep pushing,” he said.

“I’m not hearing a lot (about more funding) but there’s not an argument that when situations like this occur, there is a need for more beds.”

As part of the new patient care tower, there are two shelled-in floors for potential use as acute care beds in the future.

“It’s an issue of operating funds and needing more staff,” said Foster.

Besides more acute care beds, Foster says there needs to be a focus on residential care beds in the community so space is freed up at the hospital.

“We did a call for 46 more residential care beds,” he said.

“On any given day, there would be 16 to 18 people in acute care beds that could be in residential beds if there were residential care beds for them.”

Besides the pressure he is applying on the Ministry of Health, Foster says he is hearing from residents calling for additional beds.

“The minister gets lots of letters now. There is lots of lobbying being done by the public,” he said.

Lumby resident Loretta Herbus is familiar with congestion at VJH.

In mid-January, her 86-year-old mother was admitted because of a serious heart condition.

“She was in the emergency room for more than a week as there were no beds available,” said Herbus.

“She was moved six times and we found the care inadequate. On several occasions, she was told by nursing staff that she could get out and go home as the bed was needed for people who were critically ill.”

Herbus’ mom was eventually discharged, but was back in VJH within days because of a collapse.

“Shorter shifts, more staff, more equipment and more room would certainly go a long way to alleviating the situation in the ER,” said Herbus.

Blue Divider Line

VJH experiences cramped quarters
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - December 18, 2010

Patient occupancy at Vernon Jubilee Hospital reached about 120 per cent during the first few days of December.
morning star file photo

It’s a tight squeeze for patients at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

An update to local politicians indicates the hospital was 111 per cent overcapacity on average during September, October and November — a seven per cent jump from the same period in 2009. Occupancy spiked to about 120 per cent in early December.

“All hospitals across Interior Health are in the same situation this fall,” said Pat Furey, health services administrator.

“We are continuing to manage and provide excellent care but it does create challenges.”

From Sept. 17 to Nov. 11, there were 19 days where the number of occupied beds ranged from 157 to 166. There are 140 acute care beds at VJH.

There are about 18 to 20 patients at any given time in acute care beds waiting for residential care.

“If we had those beds (available), we could manage with the acute care beds we have. At this point, we have enough acute beds for the community,” said Furey.

The Interior Health Authority has issued a request for 46 residential care beds in the North Okanagan.

The beds are anticipated to be ready for patients in 2013.

Furey says those new residential care beds in the community will help alleviate pressure at VJH.

There are presently two shelled-in floors in the patient care tower, which is under construction, and MLA Eric Foster wants them equipped and opened up.

“I’m working extremely hard to get beds opened on the two floors,” he said.

Wayne Lippert, Vernon mayor, also insists the provincial government needs to take action.

“When there’s an opportunity to talk to cabinet ministers or MLAs, we push them on this,” he said of the two floors.

Furey points to the current situation where residential care patients are occupying acute care beds. She says that situation must be avoided if the two floors are developed.

“They will help in terms of capacity but is it the right setting for people who need residential care?” said Furey.

Despite being overcrowded Lippert is confident in the quality of care being provided at VJH.

“The support staff, doctors and nurses are doing a good job managing it. I give them credit for trying to look after everyone,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon December 13, 2010 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Nothing mentioned in the highlights of the Board meeting about several topics including Mayor Sharon Shepherd discussing Children's Health

-------------------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio December 13, 2010 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting .mp3 (138 MB)

Windows Media File Icon December 13, 2010 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Okanagan Airshed Coalition - .wma (1.49 MB)

.pdf icon December 13, 2010 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing in the Agenda mentioning the Okanagan Airshed Coalition, Childrens Health, or a Presentation by Success by 6, or of Committee Appointments

.pdf icon December 13, 2010 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

13. OTHER BUSINESS

13.1 Director Items (requiring action)

a) Interior Health Authority

Director Baker noted that the Interior Health Authority has recently paid for carbon offsets and questioned whether the Regional Hospital District will be expected to fund this. Staff noted that the Hospital Board funds capital costs not operating costs but will confirm there is no request to fund this.

b) Friends of Gibson House (Kopje Park)
Director Baker noted that 2011 will mark the 100th Anniversary of Gibson
House and that he has received a request to fund the framing of 35 pictures
from the early 1900 for display in the house.

BAKER/HODGE
THAT the funding request by Director Baker on behalf of the Friends of Gibson House at Kopje Regional Park for the framing of pictures for the 100th Anniversary be referred to the regional parks 2011 budget discussions.

CARRIED

c) Okanagan Airshed Coalition

Director Shepherd noted that 2011 MOU for the Coalition will be coming forward for Board approval.

The Administrator will report to the Board at a future meeting on staffing discussions held by the Regional District Chairs/Administrators regarding the Coalition.

d) Success by Six (RDCO G&S members are having their BRAINS EXAMINED by these guys LOL  ... listen to the audio)
There was consensus by the Board for a presentation by 'Success by Six' to be given at a future Governance & Services Committee meeting.

-------------------------

13.2 RDCO Committee Appointments - 2011

Chair Hobson presented the committee appointment listing for 2011. It was noted that Peter Austin had resigned from the Central Okanagan West Advisory Planning Commission.

HODGE/BAKER
THAT the Regional Board approve Committee/Board appointments for 2011.

CARRIED

-------------------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio December 13, 2010 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting .mp3 (138 MB)

Windows Media File Icon December 13, 2010 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Children's Health, Committee Appointments, Okanagan Airshed Coalition and RDCO having their Brains examined - .wma (1.49 MB)

Blue Divider Line

be strong -stand up for what you believe in

Join the Okanagan Health Coalition

www.bchealthcoalition.ca

In spite of the fact that Canadians and British Columbians have repeatedly named our Public Health Care system as one of our most valued assets, both levels of Government have been quietly making changes to health care delivery in the name of “innovation” and “cost saving measures”, stating that we can no longer afford to fully fund Health Care services; yet they repeatedly offer up tax cuts that reduce their revenue. My brothers used to use the same approach when they offered to trade me a big shiny nickel for my little silver dime. In both cases it is hoped that I don’t notice that I am much farther out of pocket; as I am with the user fee system if I had paid the tax with all my other friends and Neighbours.
The following changes are not being done with public consultation and much like the implementation of the HST, ignore the public’s wishes. Health Authorities throughout the Province are being given broad based directives in the form of policy changes that in some cases may be in violation of the Canada Health Act. Health Authorities are obligated to implement these changes to make up for shortages to their health care funding. As a result Canadians are paying out of pocket for services previously provided by our publicly funded Health Care System. Recently we have seen the following changes:

  • Changes in eligibility for Home Support:
    A few years ago, as a Community Nurse I and my colleagues were forced to break the news that Patients were no longer eligible for Home Support services, and if they were still eligible I must ask them to utilize family, neighbours and their Church for assistance first, and recommend private agencies that are not funded before telling them they are eligible for Community Care funded services ( pro- rated according to income) . At the same time Home support hours and services were cut.
     
  • Changes in eligibility for Residential Care admissions-and closures of Government funded Long Term Care Facilities At the same time as cuts to home support, it became much harder to qualify for admission to the few partially funded residential care beds. This strategic plan was implemented to sheep- herd the elderly and ill directly to the privatized for profit Health Care Providers invited into the province for business opportunities. We now have a very robust industry of private Home support agencies and Assisted Living Facilities that run a tab for every service you need;, including an assist to the dining room.
     
  • Increases in Residential Care Fees- July 2010- in the name of reducing daily fees for the very lowest income residents (about 25%) the remaining residents of Residential care will see a fee increase from $1400 per month to $1600 per month. For singles, this leaves very little personal income left for quality of life comfort items like shampoo, dentures, foot care, ( assists to the dining room) and pharmaceuticals. Those with spouses still living at home have been deprived of the joint pension dollars necessary to their own survival. In some cases Senior’s are being forced into Marriage separations to protect their share of the joint income from being seized.
     
  • Convalescent Care Fees- Patients who require prolonged convalescent care following injury or a serious illness like a stroke, are being billed $29.40 per day for convalescent care that is covered under the Canada Health Act. This is being done against your knowledge. If your recovery is taking “too long” you will be moved out of an acute care bed and into a special “residential care bed” and the convalescent fee charged. If my recovery takes 7 weeks – an average recovery time for a serious illness, I will be paying $ 1440 .00 to complete my recovery. In additon I must still keep my home going;, on my same income. How can this be allowed? Because the Health Minister is hiding the user fee from the Canada Health Act by moving you to a residential care bed outside an acute care setting!
     
  • Ignoring standards of the Canada Health Act : Our Provincial Governments are charged with the responsibility to Police the Canada Health Act, and in fact a special department exists for this purpose. Yet in BC we have private clinics that we like to call Club Med’s, charging patients user fees, where those who can afford to pay can jump surgical wait lists. Our Health Minister does nothing, and in fact endorses the concept of user fees being implemented elsewhere in health care.

It’s time that the public join forces to identify and take action against these initiatives. The Okanagan is one of the few areas of the province that does not have an organized health advocacy network. One person can make a difference; however a group of individuals can reach out to a broader network of activists when action is called for. In other areas of the province local Health Coalitions are already in place. Self – identified groups are there to receive information from the public who have had dangerous or arbitrary experiences. In addition those working in Health Care delivery who cannot be named or risk discipline when speaking out, have a place to speak out about areas of concern and erosions to health care delivery. Please step forward and join me in creating our own watch dog agency for the Okanagan Health Service area:

Please contact us at the following email address:

In addition please support the important advocacy work of the BC Health Coalition by becoming a member: www.bchealthcoalition.ca This is an excellent website that will allow you to keep in touch with what is going on throughout the province.

Sincerely Joyce Procure, retired Community Nurse

be strong -stand up for what you believe in

Join the Okanagan Health Coalition

We are not the BC Health Coalition. Our coalition will represent the whole valley unless we get interest in forming smaller geographical committees.  www.bchealthcoalition.ca

Blue Divider Line

Coalition rails against IH fees
By Don Plant Kelowna Daily Courrier - Thursday, November 18, 2010 

Charging patients $29 a day for room and board as they recover in bed is an unfair cash grab that health officials should stop, Interior Health directors heard Wednesday.

The B.C. Health Coalition, a group of seniors, unions and patient advocates, condemned the fee for penalizing patients - many of them elderly and chronically ill - during their recovery. It could force them to go home before they‘re ready and generate greater health costs, Joyce Procure, a former nurse in Kelowna, told IH directors at their regular meeting.

"I think you could play a role in helping Interior Health to stop charging these fees," she said, her voice breaking. "Many . . . have to pay the costs of maintaining their homes where they hope to return."

The B.C. government introduced the $29.40-per-day fee earlier this year, matching the amount charged for palliative and respite-care patients. If a patient‘s average recovery time is seven weeks, it costs $1,440, the coalition said.

Kelowna has 60 beds dedicated to convalescing patients, all of them in residential-care facilities. Patients recovering in hospital pay nothing, but the environment does little to get them back on their feet, said Donna Lommer, vice-president of residential services for IH.

"It isn‘t about someone laying in a bed," she said. "It‘s about getting them up, getting them to a dining room so they can eat. It‘s about getting them into some activities so they can start to transition back into (their home). It‘s not done well in an acute-care environment."

What happens if doctors refuse to operate on an 88-year-old man who breaks his hip? said Adam Lynes-Ford, the coalition‘s Medicare campaigner. He may be medically stable but can‘t go home because he needs help getting to the washroom.

Last year, he would have received rehab for free. Now he‘s charged a per diem and no one gave him notice, Lynes-Ford said.

"Regardless of which bed you take up, it‘s a hospital service that (patients) were not being charged for before."

IH staff did not consult with anyone about the fees because they‘re set by the province; they‘ve always been in place but were charged inconsistently within the health region, said Lommer. She admitted some patients aren‘t informed before they‘re charged the fee.

Still, IH has "grown" and improved services for convalescents because they‘re now outside acute-care hospitals, Lommer said.

A physician decides when an acute-care patient becomes convalescent. The doctor charges the health authority based on each visit and assessment, she said.

The province is camouflaging a user fee by moving convalescent patients into residential-care beds, said Procure. Whether a patient is acute or recovering, he‘s the same horse of the same colour.

"This is the person . . . who still needs medical care associated with that illness," Procure said. "Whether you move me from that acute-care bed into a residential bed . . . in another facility or not, it is still the same flow of care."

Health Minister Kevin Falcon says patients can appeal to the health authority to waive the fee based on financial hardship. The waivers are not an adequate way to ensure access to care, said Procure.

Convalescent care is covered under the Canada Health Act. The coalition is calling on the federal government to investigate whether the fee is legal, said Lynes-Ford.

Blue Divider Line

B.C. hospitals using beds for homeless
CBC.ca - The Canadian Press - Sunday, November 14, 2010

Provincial hospitals have been increasingly converting beds into a form of social housing over the past decade, data from B.C.'s Ministry of Health shows.

The data, obtained by the Opposition New Democrats, reveals a rising trend where patients who no longer require acute care remain in those beds.

Homelessness, inadequate housing and other problems related to housing and economic circumstances are given as reasons for keeping patients at the hospital.

Comparing the number of patients staying in such beds in 2001-02 with 2008-09 reveals an increase of 192 per cent.

The data reflects how homelessness, insufficient housing and income disparity are contributing to rising hospitalization rates and health-care costs, NDP health critic Adrian Dix says.

He argues the B.C. government's failure to implement a coherent housing strategy and larger poverty reduction plan is to blame.

"These figures show how increasing income disparity, homelessness and substandard housing have added more pressure on acute-care hospitals," Dix said in a written release.

"They also lend more proof that a real concerted approach to reducing poverty and poor housing will be required to bend the cost curve on health-care costs while improving the health of the overall population."

The B.C. Liberals have not been reached for comment.

Blue Divider Line

Posted on 20. Oct, 2010 in Blog, Releases

The Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh slams the Harper Government for failing to uphold the Canada Health Act

ACTION ALERT: Write the PM and Canada’s Health Minister to defend the Canada Health Act! Click here: http://bit.ly/contactgov

October 20, 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VANCOUVER – The Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh, Member of Parliament for Vancouver South and Health Critic for the Official Opposition, is urging the British Columbia government to reverse itself on $29 per-day hospital user fees recently applied throughout the Vancouver area. Further, Dosanjh is demanding the Harper Government act immediately to enforce the Canada Health Act.

“User fees are clearly and directly in contravention of the Canada Health Act – the federal government must take action,” said Dosanjh, a former Federal Minister of Health. “Taxing seriously injured hospital patients, including many seniors on fixed incomes, flies in the face of our values as Canadians – and may deter patients from continuing to receive the care they desperately need.”

A recent Quebec proposal to charge $25 for visits to Medical Doctors was abandoned after widespread opposition from the public and health policy experts. The new hospital user fee has been applied in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority since July.

“The Harper government has demonstrated a complete lack of commitment to the health care Canadian families need and cherish,” added Dosanjh. “Our universal health care system is premised on the belief that we are there for each other as Canadians when we need each other most. The Harper government is instead content to allow the charging of up to $900 per month for seriously injured Canadians and seniors – this is like kicking Canadians when they’re down.”

Dosanjh is calling upon the federal government to immediately enforce the Canada Health Act and to stop “costly fees on Canadians during the toughest and most vulnerable moments of their lives.”

“The Canada Health Act is our nation’s Charter for universal health care,’ concluded Dosanjh. “The BC government should reverse itself, and the Harper Government must demonstrate that they respect the Canada Health Act, believe in it, and will act to uphold it.”


For more information, please contact:

Office of the Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh

Braeden Caley – 604.809.9951 | Alyssa Armstrong – 613.995.7052

Blue Divider Line

Vancouver hospital user-fee under fire
CBC News - Wednesday, October 20, 2010

User fees now charged to some Vancouver-area hospital patients are a growing concern, says the B.C. Health Coalition.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority began in July to charge patients $29 a day while they're recovering in hospital after surgery or serious injury.

The fees can add up to $900 a month, which could be especially onerous for seniors, coalition co-chair Alice Edge said Wednesday.

"They are on fixed incomes," said Edge. "It is a financial burden and it is a lot of stress."

When asked about the fee, B.C. Health Minister Kevin Falcon said it makes sense, considering the cost of hospital care.

"They're now receiving room and board, convalescent care and food services," said Falcon. "They're being charged a small portion of the total cost of delivering that and I think that is entirely reasonable."

Residential care equivalent
The user fees are the same as in equivalent private care, said health authority spokesman Clay Adams.

"The fees people are being asked to pay in a convalescent care facility are exactly the same as they would be paying if they're subject to fees in a residential care facility," Adams said.

Edge said the point is that patients are in public care, not residential care.

"I think it would be news to a lot of people who have gone into acute care and then are waiting to go home and finish up their rehab and are presented a bill."

Falcon dimissed the B.C. Health Coalition's objections.

"They're opposed to patient-focused funding, they oppose the convalescent care fees, they oppose any of the innovations we introduced," he said.

B.C. NDP Health critic Adrian Dix said if it's an innovation to take money from recovering seniors, his party opposes it as well.

"What they're doing is taking people, who are hospital patients, and charging them fees. That's something, in our system, we haven't done," said Dix. "It's taking people at their most vulnerable moment and charging them for it."

Blue Divider Line

UBCM endorses DWK resolution
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 57250 - Oct 1, 2010

West Kelowna Council’s hard work has paid off with its resolution on the Capital Cost of Health Care being approved without debate by the assembly at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler this week.

The following motion was passed Thursday, September 29 and will be taken to the Provincial Government for consideration:

WHEREAS Regional Hospital Districts were originally created, among other things, “to establish, acquire, construct, reconstruct, enlarge, operate and maintain hospitals and hospital facilities”

AND WHEREAS in some Regional Hospital Districts, non-Aboriginal residents residing on First Nations land do not contribute to the capital costs of hospitals and health facilities yet are users of these facilities

THEREFORE be it resolved that UBCM lobby the Ministry of Health Services to establish an equitable provincial system to collect funding for regional hospital capital projects from non-Aboriginal residents residing on First Nations lands.

“I am very pleased West Kelowna’s resolution went through. We worked long and hard to have that go to Province. SILGA (Southern Interior Local Governments Association) endorsed it in the spring and now it has become UBCM policy,” says Mayor Findlater.

“We look forward to seeing what the Province will do in response.”

At Thursday's scheduled meetings with provincial government representatives, Mayor and Council continued their work to raise important issues for the District of West Kelowna including support for its Economic Development Strategy, the ongoing cooperative relationship with Westbank First Nation and its need for a secondary transmission line from BC Hydro. On Thursday, September 30, West Kelowna met with:

•Iain Black, Minster of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development to speak about the District’s interest in securing support for its Economic Development Strategy. Council recently adopted the Strategy and has committed to hiring an Economic Development Officer for a two year period to implement the recommendations of the document. Although no funding is available from the Province at this time, the District was provided with other avenues of funding from external agencies to follow up on.

•George Abbott, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation regarding the District’s relationship with Westbank First Nation. Minister Abbott was advised of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding May 3, 2010 between West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation, declaring their mutual intentions to pursue a lasting relationship based on mutual respect, honour and recognition and work together to address issues of mutual interest and benefit.

The District raised the issue of the Ministry’s reconciliation negotiations with Westbank First Nation and asked that the minister ensure his staff continue to liaise with the District of West Kelowna as to the progress of the negotiations.

•Donna McGeachie, Community Relations Manager, Dag Sharman, Community Relations Manager and Julius Pataky, Vice-President of Asset Management, BC Hydro to discuss the need to provide an alternate, secondary electrical transmission line to the District of West Kelowna. Currently, only a single transmission line provides power to the Westbank station from the west in Merritt, which provides service to approximately 50,000 customers in the District of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Peachland and adjacent rural areas. The District is the largest community in BC that is supplied by a single-circuit transmission line and has, over the years, experienced a number of significant power outages. A secondary transmission lines is needed to ensure future growth can be maintained and supported and to provide our existing population a secure power source in the event of an emergency such as a major forest fire. Last year, BC Utilities Commission authorized funding for a Phase 1 study of this issue.

The District was advised that BC Hydro is in the process of hiring a project manager for the Definition Phase – a high level feasibility study – with a public consultation process in West Kelowna to begin later this fall.

Blue Divider Line

Westside care centre on IHA backburner
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 57172 - Sep 29, 2010

Plans for a Westside Health Centre have fallen further down the Interior Health Authority’s list of capital funding priorities, District of West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater learned during a meeting with IHA officials on Monday.

Following the meeting, which took place during the first day of the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in Whistler on Monday, Findlater said he was disappointed at the news, but not surprised.

“The funding landscape has changed somewhat for Interior Health, with less provincial money available for capital projects. That, combined with other, higher priority IHA projects already in the queue, means a Westside Health Centre will have to wait longer,” says Findlater.

The mayor says Interior Health could offer no timelines for construction of an urgent health centre proposed for property at Bering and Elliot Roads in West Kelowna.

“I’m told that projects have become higher priorities in communities like Lytton and Williams Lake, for example, where access to health care is more limited and further away from major care centres like those in Kamloops and Kelowna, which we here in West Kelowna are privileged to be able to access more easily.”

Findlater noted that, while a Westside Health Centre has fallen lower on Interior Health’s priority list, it has not fallen completely off their radar.

“It certainly hasn’t fallen off West Kelowna’s radar either, and I will continue to lobby for this centre in the event the economy should strengthen and more capital funding for health care should become available in our province.”

Meanwhile, Findlater says that he has received assurances that Interior Health would, at the very least, continue to work with the District of West Kelowna on a plan for the property.

Interior Health has also been invited to participate in the District of West Kelowna’s Westbank Centre Revitalization Plan to ensure a future health centre complements surrounding commercial and residential development.

After a lengthy battle with the Agricultural Land Commission, Interior Health was granted approval to utilize 1.62 hectares of the 2.7 hectare site at Bering and Elliott roads for the proposed health centre.

Interior Health purchased the property in March of 2010.

West Kelowna Council has already given first, second and third readings to rezoning of the property.

In related news, the District of West Kelowna has applauded Interior Health for agreeing to throw support behind B.C. municipalities and regional districts that are calling on the Provincial Government to continue providing funds for the West Nile Virus Risk Reduction Program.

Findlater also thanked Interior Health for playing a key role on the Bear Creek Drinking Water Advisory Committee, providing recommendations to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, which is working with a group of stakeholders in an attempt to create a motorized-off road recreation area in the vicinity of Bear and Bald Range Creeks.

Blue Divider Line

Patient-focused funding is welcomed
Kelowna Capital News - By Alistair Waters - September 24, 2010

The head of Interior Health is welcoming the province’s new “patient-focused” funding system, saying the $2.6 million his health authority will receive will ease waiting lists for many day surgeries at the four largest hospitals in the southern Interior.

Dr. Rob Halpenny told the Capital News the funding addresses immediate and specific needs at Kelowna General, Kamloops’ Royal Inland, Penticton Regional and Vernon Royal Jubilee hospitals.

With the funding, a total of 2,715 more surgical and medical procedures will be done at the hospitals and 2,074 more MRIs will be done, according to the province.

Halpenny said the new procedures, such as the 365 hernia, knee, shoulder, ACL and ear surgeries slated for KGH between now and March 31, 2011, are typically the procedures “bumped” by emergency trauma procedures.

There will also be 450 more scopes, exploratory procedures, and 800 more MRI scans done at Kelowna General thanks to the new funding system.

Halpenny said after consulting with doctors in the our major Southern Interior communities, the needs were identified and the “system bottlenecks” addressed.

“The public should welcome this. It is an incentive to us to be more productive and maintain quality,” said the IH CEO.

The province announced in April that it would start changing how it funds B.C. hospitals, moving away from the current “global” funding model to one that directly addresses patient surgeries and procedures.

For the next two years, 20 per cent of the funding directed to the province’s 23 largest hospitals will be “patient-focused.

Of the $23.4 million announced earlier this week, $2.6 million is going to Interior Health, said Halpenny.

But while the amount may seem small given the $1.5-billion IH budget, he said the amount is not important, it is what can be done with the money.


And, in turn, the reduction of time patients spend on waiting lists to have day surgeries done.

When the government announced its planned move to patient-focused funding in April, concern was raised that it could pit hospitals against each other as they tried to get people through faster in order to attract more funding and that could hurt quality of service.

But Halpenny moved to allay those fears, saying given that each of the four hospitals affected in Interior Health identified different areas where there are service bottlenecks.

The exercise of identifying what procedures need attention was also helpful because it showed where the choke points are now and helped address how they should be dealt with.

“One of my mantras is ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,’” said Halpenny.

awaters "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

July 8, 2010 Regional District of Central Okanagan Highlights of the Regional Board Meeting

Regional Hospital District

The Board of the Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District has received the 2009 Financial Statements and Reports. The Regional Hospital District had total revenues of $11.7 million and expenditures of $17.7 million during the fiscal year ending December 31st. The Regional Hospital District ended the 2009 fiscal year with an operating deficit of $5.5 million which is related to a change in accounting principles regarding asset grants. The Regional Hospital District Board has approved providing 40 per cent of the funding or just over $202 million towards for capital projects and equipment requested by Interior Health for the Central Okanagan between 2010 and 2016. Among the projects approved: $99.3 million for the new Ambulatory Care tower, $91.4 million for the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre, $2.7 million for equipment and more than $1.5 million for infrastructure modification at Kelowna General Hospital.

Blue Divider Line

Effect of chronic stress may be found in hair: study
By: CTV.ca News Staff - Friday Sep. 3, 2010

An endocrinologist with the University of Western Ontario says measuring cortisol levels in hair was the strongest predictor of heart attacks when compared to the measurement of other risk factors. 

If our eyes are the window to our soul, might our hair be a window into our heart attack risk?

Canadian researchers think it might be, suggesting that clues found in our hair could signal if we could be headed to the cardiologist.

According to a new study, measuring levels of the stress hormone cortisol in our hair may be a good way to screen for chronic stress and our risk for a heart attack.

While it's long been theorized that chronic stress can put one at risk of heart disease and heart attacks, there's never been a good way to objectively measure chronic stress. Instead, most studies on chronic stress and heart attacks have used questionnaires to ask patients about their stress levels.

So Drs. Gideon Koren and Stan Van Uum from the University of Western Ontario developed a method to measure cortisol levels in hair, which they say provides an accurate assessment of stress levels in the months prior to a heart attack.

"Intuitively we know stress is not good for you, but it's not easy to measure," Koren, who holds the Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry said in a news release.

His team notes that while blood, urine and saliva can also contain indicators of stress, cortisol captured in the hair shaft remains stable for months -- even years. In fact, researchers have been able to detect cortisol in the hair of ancient Peruvian mummies dating back to AD 550-1000.

"We know that on average, hair grows one centimetre (cm) a month, and so if we take a hair sample six cm long, we can determine stress levels for six months by measuring the cortisol level in the hair," Koren said.

In the study, hair samples three centimetres long were collected from 56 men who were admitted to the Meir Medical Centre in Kfar-Saba, Israel, suffering heart attacks. A control group of 56 men, who were hospitalized for reasons other than a heart attack, was also asked for hair samples.

When the researchers measured the cortisol levels in the hair of the two groups, they found higher cortisol levels corresponding to the previous three months in the heart attack patients, compared to the control group.

The researchers did note that the patients who'd had heart attacks also had more cholesterol problems. But their blood pressure problems were about the same, as was their family history of coronary artery disease.

After accounting for the known risk factors, hair cortisol content emerged as the strongest predictor of heart attack, the researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Stress, was funded by Physician Services Inc. and CIHR, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Stress: Hair cortisol and the risk for acute myocardial infarction in adult men

Blue Divider Line

BPA contaminants found in most Canadians
Monday, August 16, 2010 - CBC News

About 91 per cent of Canadians have detectable levels of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make some hard plastic containers, bottles and toys, a new report suggests.

Statistics Canada released the finding Monday as part of the results of its survey measuring the levels of various contaminants in the urine of Canadians aged six to 79.

What is bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A is a chemical compound found in some hard, clear, lightweight plastics and resins. It's used in the production of various types of food and drink containers, compact discs, electronics and automobile parts, and as a liner in some metal cans. Animal studies suggest that, once ingested, BPA may imitate estrogen and other hormones, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic for water bottles and food containers as well as the protective lining in metal cans. It does not occur naturally in the environment.

Some studies on animals suggest that low levels of exposure to BPA very early in life can affect brain development and behaviour, but scientists are unsure in interpreting how these findings might be relevant to human health, Statistics Canada said.

Animal studies suggest that, once ingested, BPA may imitate estrogen and other hormones, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Compared with children aged six to 11, those aged 12 to 19 had a higher concentration, while those aged 40 to 79 had lower concentrations, Statistics Canada said.

It is the first time the BPA levels of Canadians have been measured in a nationally representative sample of the population.

The findings are consistent with results from international studies, the agency said. BPA has been detected in 93 per cent of Americans aged six or older, and 99 per cent of Germans aged three to 14.

The Statistics Canada data "suggest continual widespread exposure in the Canadian population," the report concluded.

Canadians' average BPA level in their urine was 1.16 micrograms per litre.

In October 2008, Canada became the first country in the world to ban the import and sale of polycarbonate baby bottles containing bisphenol A, as a safety precaution. It is still used as a liner in food and beverage cans sold in Canada.

Future surveys will allow Health Canada scientists to better assess whether Canadians' exposure to environmental chemicals is changing, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a release.

Related: Canadians' lead levels show dramatic drop
While there is still uncertainty about the health risk of BPA, it is excreted quickly and the fact that it was not found in some participants is good news, professor Linda Campbell, an environmental expert on mercury and metals at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said in an email.

"The BPA concentrations are of concern at the higher concentrations, but since it is not persistent in humans, we should be able to see an immediate reduction if we can limit this compound," added Campbell, Canada Research Chair in aquatic ecosystem health.

Campbell said she supports the precautionary principle of not mass producing new chemicals until scientists know whether they are safe for humans and the environment. She also supports government efforts to rapidly reduce BPA in food and drink.

The survey also looked at Canadians' levels of lead and mercury contamination.

Samples for the study were collected from March 2007 to February 2009 from a representative sample of about 5,600 Canadians aged six to 79 years at 15 sites across the country.

Blue Divider Line

B.C. in dire need of colorectal cancer screening program, survivors say
By Pamela Fayerman, Vancouver Sun July 27, 2010

NDP health critic Adrian Dix is calling for a province-wide colorectal screening program to protect British Columbians, colorectal cancer is the second cause of cancer death in the province. Dix (C) is flanked by cancer survivors Ruth Tremblay (L) and Doug Shirlaw.Photograph by: Jon Murray, PNGVANCOUVER - Vancouver colorectal cancer survivors Ruth Tremblay and Doug Shirlaw joined NDP health critic Adrian Dix on Tuesday in calling for a provincial screening program that would reduce deaths by either preventing such cancers or catching them earlier.

Of the 200 types of cancers, only lung cancer kills more B.C. residents.

Dix said the province is lagging behind several other provinces by delaying implementation of a screening program like ones that exist for breast and cervical cancers.

Dix told a news conference he had a sense of deja vu since he made the same plea for a screening program almost exactly three years ago. “And the health minister is still dragging his feet.”

He said the issue is dear to his heart since his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer 12 years ago. “She was diagnosed early so she survived and she is still working,” he said.

Colorectal cancer screening programs, which target those aged 50 to 75, can reduce death rates by up to 83 per cent and incidence by up to 81 per cent, according to a new University of B.C.-Dalhousie University study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The study also found that such programs are cost-effective since they prevent cancer cases, avoiding treatment costs.

Health Minister Kevin Falcon said the province will know by the end of the year what kind of screening program it will fund, when results of a pilot project involving 9,000 people become available. He stressed that there is nothing preventing people getting tested if they fit the criteria. The government spends almost $30 million for tests and diagnostic exams for those who seek them. An estimated one-third of the eligible population gets such tests. A screening program that includes reminder letters and awareness campaigns would reportedly boost such testing to 70 per cent of those over age 50.

Shirlaw said he had 48 weeks of treatment after he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2006 and now regards himself as “one of the lucky ones” since he is still cancer-free.

Tremblay, also diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2006, is still under treatment since she was diagnosed with two other types of cancer as a result of the disease spreading to other sites.

“Through screening, I could have avoided this. Instead I am at home on disability. Early detection does save lives. And it’s cost effective because instead of spending hundreds of thousands taking care of each ill person you can spend [less] to prevent cancer,” she said. Both patients’ cancers were detected as a result of symptoms, not through screening tests.


pfayerman "at" vancouversun.com

Blue Divider Line

Health care providers learn what rural communities need
Kelowna Capital News - By Mike Simmons - July 22, 2010

A series of meetings in rural communities is giving health service providers a more detailed picture of their particular needs.

Interior Health vice-president of communications Cathy Renkas said the organization is hearing the outcome of community engagement sessions launched in June.

The organization launched the process to hear about the specific needs of Lytton, Logan Lake and Ashcroft. Renkas noted the rural communities have experienced challenges in getting physicians there, and ensuring they have enough medical staff.

Interior Health officials met with First Nations groups, physicians and key stakeholders in the communities.

“We really wanted to hear what was top of mind for them as far as health issues go.”

Renkas noted one of the biggest challenges in the rural communities serviced by Interior Health is patient transportation.

All three of the communities have health centres, and Ashcroft has a full hospital. Renkas added the towns have emergency rooms and essentially the whole range of health services. But transportation can be an issue before patients even make it to the emergency room.

Renkas pointed out there is a large First Nations population in Lytton with many that live on the other side of the river from town, making it more challenging for them to access health services in the first place.

Transportation also poses difficulties for rural residents as they face the issue of elderly care.

“Often in smaller communities, you don’t have the ability to create the large residential care facilities you have in the larger centres.”

Renkas said elderly care can be challenging in smaller communities. She noted that if someone needs 24/7 nursing care, they often have to leave their community.

“One of the things we’re focusing on is good home support services.”

Renkas noted Interior Health is focusing on having good home support services in rural areas, with a nurse or a community health worker that could help elderly home-based patients get up in the morning, get dressed or take medications.

She pointed out the dialogue with those communities was a great opportunity, and both parties involved would like to see the meetings continue.

“As we look to the future, we have to find a way to deliver services more efficiently and more effectively in rural communities.”

msimmons "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

Paramedic says he’s outta here
Kelowna Capital News - June 29, 2010

To the editor:

Beautiful mountains, lovely lakes, lots of trees. It makes B.C. a great place to visit.

Unfortunately the difference between visiting B.C. and living in B.C. is that when you live in B.C., you end up having to look past the tourist appeal and see how this dictatorship of a province is run—and how it affects your life.

I moved to B.C. in 2007 ready to start a new life. I moved to a city I had never been to before and was going to start the career of my dreams—as a paramedic. I was ready to establish myself.

Three years later I am so sick of how things are run here and how the powers that be have destroyed my career, I am taking my family and moving us to Ontario.

Where else do you have a premier convicted of drinking and driving; a government that has blatantly lied to the people who put them into power just so they can stay in power and line the pockets of their biggest sponsors at the expense of the people they are supposed to look after; and a government that has made such huge cutbacks to vital services such as health care, education, senior services while pouring money into a glorified elitist rich party, a stadium, and a casino?

Where else do you have such a vital profession as paramedics being constantly beat down by their own employers?

Where else do you have a government that constantly puts peoples’ lives at risk by extending wait times just so they can shave $50,000 off a multi-million dollar budget?

Where else does your own management continue to cut back on funding needed for you to better do your job and then blame you because they still manage to overspend on “hidden” things that have nothing to do with improving the service?

I love being a paramedic but I hate being a paramedic in B.C. My own worst enemy is the very person responsible for providing the service I work in. Instead of being appreciated or respected, my own government simply publicly calls me a liar, whiner, difficult, and even goes as far as using the court system to force me to work overtime even when I needed to be at home when my wife was extremely ill after having emergency surgery and had to look after a newborn on top of that.

Could I stay home and help? Not according to the government. If I chose family above work, I would’ve been disciplined and threatened with termination.

This is my employer. This is my government. This is why I am leaving B.C. for a better life. My family deserves better than what B.C. is, and where B.C. is going—down the tubes.

Jason Angulo,
Coldstream

Blue Divider Line

B.C. pledges doc for every patient
Kelowna Capital News - By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News - June 24, 2010

Health Minister Kevin Falcon at announcement in White Rock.
Brian Giebelhaus

Everyone in B.C. who wants a family doctor will be able to get one by 2015.

That was the promise Thursday from health minister Kevin Falcon, who unveiled what he called a major reform to primary health care delivery.

Family doctors are to voluntarily organize into non-profit community-based teams called "divisions of family practice" to collaboratively manage patients, with backing from other health professionals.

Extra support for those divisions is expected to make care more efficient, allowing more patients to be get better, more supportive care.

"Family care physicians will be able to treat more patients because they'll have much more support in looking after higher needs patients, chronic needs patients and those with mental illness," Falcon said at the announcement in White Rock.

He committed $137 million to back the changes.

Rather than referring a patient to a specialist and leaving them to bounce inefficiently around the system, family doctors will be able to phone a specialist and get an instant consultation, opening up the potential for much quicker treatment decisions and reduced waits.

Falcon said $44 million will go to specialists, who can now bill for the over-the-phone consultations.

Family doctors will also be able to earn more money for treating time-intensive patients with chronic diseases, Falcon said.

"That will benefit those patients by ensuring they're not in and out of there in three to five minutes, they can spend up to 30 minutes with the doctor."

Better primary care with improved access to doctors will translate into patients with healthier, longer lives, less chronic disease, fewer hospital visits and cost savings for the system, Falcon predicted.

"We're trying to make the system respond to the needs of patients, not patients having to navigate the system trying to get better care," he said.

"We are the first in the country to move on this path."

Divisions of family practice are to offer a one-stop phone call for residents without family doctors to find one and to similarly arrange a doctor for those who arrive at emergency wards without one.

Up to 250,000 B.C. residents don't have a family doctor and many existing practices are closed.

Getting a family doctor in B.C. can be as hard as "finding a ticket to a Lady Gaga concert," Falcon said, adding the change to guaranteed access won't happen overnight.

Family practice divisions have been piloted for months in Cowichan Valley, Prince George and White Rock/South Surrey and is to extend to 40 communities over the next year, including most parts of the Lower Mainland.

The next cities to get their own divisions will be North Vancouver, Powell River, Chilliwack, Kamloops and Prince Rupert.

Patients are also expected to help.

Falcon said extra support is envisioned for groups of patients with the same chronic conditions to help them "self-manage" their treatment.

The new model is voluntary, but B.C. Medical Association president Dr. Ian Gillespie predicted most physicians will sign on.

He said the changes should also make it more attractive for doctors to train and stay with family practice, rather than specializing.

Falcon also said he hopes the divisions make more use of B.C.'s many unemployed nurse practitioners, acknowledging B.C. has done a poor job of using those it has trained.

He offered few specifics but B.C. Nurse Practitioners' Association president Lynn Guengerich said she's confident that shift will come – if for no other reason because family doctors alone cannot handle the demand as B.C.'s population grows and ages.

One nurse practitioner has already been hired to work with the White Rock/South Surrey division of family physicians, according to Dr. Brenda Hefford, who is leading the formation of that group.

"This is a new way of working," she said.

NDP health critic Adrian Dix said some of the ideas are good but Falcon is promising more than the initiative is likely to achieve, particularly since the province has been cutting funding for various community programs and health-related services.

"They're doing all these things that make it more difficult for people to stay healthy," Dix said.

Blue Divider Line

IHA warns of busy emergency rooms
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 54687 - May 21, 2010

Interior Health is preparing for busy Emergency rooms this weekend.

In anticipation of heavy volumes at area Emergency departments during the Victoria Day long-weekend, Interior Health is reminding the public to take a few simple steps to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital:


•If you need non-urgent care, first contact your family doctor or the doctor on-call or go to a local walk-in clinic.


•See your doctor before the weekend, if necessary, to avoid long wait times in the emergency department.


•Note the weekend and holiday hours of your local pharmacy/drug store, and ensure your prescriptions are up-to-date.


•Call HealthLink BC at 811, 24-hours a day if you are unsure about your need to go to the emergency department.

If, however, you feel that you do require urgent medical attention, do not hesitate to come to the emergency department or call 911.

The triage system ensures that priority is given to those patients requiring most urgent care

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon May 17, 2010 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regional Board Meeting

West Nile Risk Reduction Funding Approved

The Regional Board has received approval from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) for a grant to fund the 2010 West Nile Virus Risk Reduction program. The Regional District will receive $274,500 from the BC Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport to reduce mosquito larvae by treating approximately 300 known breeding sites on public lands and roadside catch basins within the Regional District and its member municipalities. A portion of the funding will be used in a public awareness advertising program in cooperation with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to assist private property owners to identify and reduce potential mosquito breeding locations.

---------------------------------

Population of the Regional District of Central Okanagan in 2009 184,411

184,411 divided by $274,500 = $0.67 cents

May 17, 2010 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regional Board Meeting Agenda

Item 3.2 UBCM - 2010 West Nile Virus Risk Reduction Initiative.pdf

Local Government Program Services

April 23, 2010
Chair Hobson and Board
Regional District of Central Okanagan
1450 KLO Road
Kelowna, BC, VIW 324
RE: 2010 West Nile Virus Risk Reduction Initiative

Dear Chair and Board,

Thank you for submitting an application and additional information for the 2010 West Nile Virus (WNV) Risk Reduction Initiative. UBCM administers the WNV program on behalf of the provincial Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport.

We have reviewed your application and additional information and are pleased to advise that your proposed activities have been approved in the amount of $274,500.00.

A cheque for 75% of the approved grant, in the amount of $205,875.00 will follow shortly under separate cover. The remaining 25% will be available upon receipt of a satisfactory final report. Please see the Program Guide for information on reporting requirements. The final report is due no later than October 31, 2010.

The general Terms & Conditions of this grant are attached. Please note that any funds that have not been spent by the final reporting date must be returned to UBCM, where they will be retained for future programming.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Local Government Program Services at (250) 356-5134 or Igps "at" ubcm.ca.

Sincerely,
Danyta Welch
Policy & Program Officer

cc: Charlie Cameron, Manager of Public Works, Regional District of Central Okanagan
Dr. Rob Parker, Local Medical Health Officer, Interior Health

http://www.ubcm.ca/

Blue Divider Line

Doctors protest cramped quarters
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - April 20, 2010

Physicians claim over-capacity at Vernon Jubilee Hospital is putting patients at risk.

The number of patients at VJH has ranged between 160 and 170 daily for the last few days. That far outstrips the number of acute care beds available.

“It’s the worst conditions I’ve seen in 10 years,” said Dr. Michael Concannon, speaking on behalf of emergency doctors.

Patients are being kept in areas like halls, and Concannon says there isn’t space for doctors to examine people, and the ability to monitor patients is being impacted.

“They are being put in dangerous, inappropriate settings,” he said.

On April 9, 12 department heads wrote a letter to the Interior Health Authority stating that capacity at the hospital is frequently over 126 per cent.

“There is sound evidence that shows hospital overcrowding is associated with a higher rate of infections such as MRSA and C-Difficile. We have recently been seeing both with increased frequency at our hospital,” write the doctors.

The doctors also claim that there were 138 acute care beds prior to an external review, but that has now dropped to 127.

“Our hope for the external review was to increase, not decrease the number of acute beds,” they state.

Pat Furey, VJH administrator, admits there are challenges at the hospital.

“We are really congested and it’s been like that for about six weeks,” she said.

“We’re doing our best to move patients through the system.”

In terms of reduced acute care beds, Furey says VJH is funded for 140 but some have been designated for residential and alternate care because those patients have no where else to go.

Concannon questions IHA’s actions.

“We’ve been trying to address this internally and no solutions have been offered (by IHA). Pressure needs to come from the public,” he said.

As part of the new patient care tower currently being constructed, two shelled-in floors are being included for long-term expansion of acute care beds.

Concannon believes there is a need for IHA and the government to proceed with those floors, but that could be at least a year away, and he says something must be done now to ease reduce pressure.

“They need to find space within the (existing) hospital or use trailers,” he said.

In their letter, the 12 department heads also demand immediate action to increase capacity.

“The only safe alternatives are to transfer patients to other facilities if the census exceeds 160 or to close the emergency department and put the hospital on code orange diversion,” they state.

Furey insists IHA is taking over-crowding at Vernon Jubilee Hospital seriously.

“We’ve explored and taken advantage of every opportunity we can. Every bed in the system is being used,” she said, adding that additional money has been directed towards residential care and home support to try and ease conditions at VJH.

“There is no physical space for extra beds.”

Furey doesn’t consider diversion to other Interior hospitals a viable option.

“The population of the North Okanagan won’t go for any of those and Kelowna, Kamloops and Penticton are also seeing similar congestion,” she said.

“We can’t divert because other operating rooms (in the Interior) don’t have the capacity.”

Blue Divider Line

Interior Health Authority
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - March 23, 2010

The actions of this infamous health authority are akin to that of a farmer in his henhouse...chop...next...chop...next...chop...next and so on.

When are we residents of B.C. going to say enough is enough?

While we are sitting idly by this authority is continually making cuts that affect each and every one of us. The health care in B.C. is not the best in the world, as they would have us believe by their propaganda. Anyone waiting for elective surgery...forget it...just grab your cane or your walker and hobble down to the corner drug store and get a do-it-yourself kit because that is the only option you have left.

As a senior with some physical problems, I have been fortunate in having the opportunity to take part in the EAST program being offered at Gateby.

This means that seniors who are experiencing some physical problems (arthritis, fractured hip, knee or hip replacement, etc.) are guided through exercises by a wonderful physiotherapist and his staff to learn to regain our balance and stability and build up muscle strength.

You attend twice weekly for a 12-week period and if your doctor requests you require another 12 weeks, you are able to do so.

At least that's the way it was until recently.

We were presented with a letter from the Interior Health Authority advising that as of March 8 the program is being cut so you can no longer exceed the 12 weeks

Some of those attending have required more than 12 weeks to regain their strength and muscle stability. Along with cutting this program, there are other changes being made and of course with these changes, some staff have found themselves on the chopping block as well.

When B.C. voted to allow gaming, it was on the pretext that the funds would be going to health and sports...yeah, sure...going into general revenue...of course.

This government has lost all sense of reality in cutting back health and education. We have a new expensive tower being built at VJH for acute care. Even with what little wisdom I possess, I question why they would cut programs like the EAST program that would help prevent seniors from falling and doing serious injury and ending up in the acute care facility.

What about the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Interior Health Authority is a fitting title for this group.

The definition of the word authority is power to enforce obedience. Are we their humble servants and going to keep succumbing to their powers?

We live in a democracy and so let's take advantage of that and speak up. I just did.

Beryl Nerling

Blue Divider Line

B.C. VIEWS: The Falconization of health care
Vernon Morning Star - BC Views - By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News  - March 16, 2010

The B.C. government is making big changes to rural ambulance service, which has never provided enough work on its own to keep a stable, trained workforce.
B.C. Ambulance Service

VICTORIA – Opposition critics frequently accuse Premier Gordon Campbell of seizing on one big issue after another, then dropping them and moving on.

This is suggested about climate change, aboriginal reconciliation, and of course health care, the subject of Campbell’s 2006 tour of mixed private and public models in Europe and Scandinavia.

Health Minister Kevin Falcon has now taken flight to show that the health care project is very much alive. He began last week by speculating about B.C. facilities becoming “the Mayo Clinic of the North,” offering surgical services to foreign patients on evenings and weekends.

This idea first got traction last summer, when Campbell pitched Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall on the idea of sending prairie patients to Vancouver to use new specialty hip and knee replacement units. Saskatchewan eventually balked at the idea of paying a premium for faster service, and now Falcon cites the thousands of U.S. patients who shop the world for health care.

B.C.’s private clinic heavyweights, Dr. Brian Day of Cambie Surgery Centre and Dr. Mark Godley of False Creek Surgery Centre, are naturally enthusiastic. This suggests that private surgery providers expect a bigger role in specialized units like the joint replacement project at UBC and Richmond hospitals.

There are few details on this so far. But Falcon has also moved on a more urgent front, announcing a shakeup of the B.C. Ambulance Service as its imposed contract with paramedics is set to run out at the end of March.

The ambulance service is being transferred to the Provincial Health Services Authority, which runs B.C. Children’s Hospital and other province-wide services. It sounds like a bureaucratic shuffle, but Falcon makes it clear the long and futile battle with the paramedics’ union is leading to big changes.

“There’s a possibility that we can expand the role of firefighters [in paramedic service], there are options to use private services where that makes sense sometimes in small communities, so all those options will be available to us,” he said.

Falcon also confirmed that the move is designed to expand an experiment in the Kootenays, so small towns can maintain ambulance service by employing part-time paramedics at a local care home so they can make a living.

The plight of rural paramedics on call for $2 an hour was the rallying cry of NDP politicians before last year’s long and bitter strike.

But rural B.C. was soon neglected by the paramedics’ union, which demanded huge wage hikes for city paramedics as the recession hit, pulled illegal strike actions, defaced ambulances and finally tried to disrupt the Olympics. Last week the government rejected the union’s latest erratic demand, to extend the existing contract terms to set up two more years of senseless fighting.

I’ve written previously about the inflation of city paramedic overtime, which shows how much this union really cares about the cash-starved rural areas. It is the worst performance by a B.C. government union so far this century, and its conflict-addicted leadership is about to pay the price in contracting out and its own eventual break-up.

Labour Minister Murray Coell has until the end of the month to determine the details of this new structure, and how it will affect bargaining. Judging by the latest seething of the union leadership, there is no chance of co-operation here, and another contract may have to be imposed while the mess is untangled.

The growth and greying of B.C.’s population are upon us, and old government monopoly service delivery models are not going to be able to handle it.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com.

tfletcher "at" blackpress.ca

Blue Divider Line

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2010HSERV0004-000114

Feb. 1, 2010
Ministry of Health Services
BC Cancer Agency

INTERIOR GETS BETTER CANCER CARE, CLOSER TO HOME

KELOWNA – A new, state-of-the-art radiation therapy treatment unit and a brachytherapy suite was officially opened today at the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for the Southern Interior, which will help more patients from the Interior get better cancer care, closer to home.

“British Columbia is recognized as a world-class leader in cancer care,” said Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson, on behalf of Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon. “The expansion of the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for Southern Interior will bring the latest advances in cancer care to Kelowna, and will help patients get the care they need without having the additional stress of travelling away from home.”

The new radiation therapy treatment unit and the brachytherapy suite – which will allow oncologists to implant radiation sources directly into or around tumours – represent the completion of the first phase of the Province’s $23.7-million investment in cancer care and treatment in the Southern Interior. The second phase will include the replacement of all four of the centre’s existing radiation therapy machines with new radiation therapy equipment by 2011.

“Once both phases are complete, the more than 2,800 new patients who are treated at this centre each year will have access to these leading-edge therapies, such as IMRT radiation therapy and brachytherapy, right in their communities,” said Ben Stewart, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “The new enhancements will improve patient care and translate into better outcomes for patients in the Southern Interior.”

“Medical technology is constantly advancing as breakthroughs are discovered,” said Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “We are pleased to be able to take advantage of these advancements and ensure that the Centre for the Southern Interior will continue providing leading-edge care now and well into the future.”

The first of five new radiation machines is now operational, with the remaining four to be replaced one-by-one, and be operational by 2011. Once all five machines are up-and-running, the centre will increase treatment capacity by approximately 25 per cent. The new machines are capable of providing intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), a special technique which allows radiation therapy to be delivered in a manner that conforms to a specific tumour shape, while better sparing surrounding tissue.

“The new equipment will significantly increase our capacity to treat more patients in the Interior now and for many years into the future,” said Dr. David Levy, president of the BCCA, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). “We have the potential to treat an additional 500 patients each year when all five machines are operational.”

The new brachytherapy suite will allow patients to receive their care and treatment at the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for the Southern Interior for the first time. In the past, fewer patients were able to be treated with brachytherapy and it involved consultation and follow-up at the CSI but the procedure itself was done at the Kelowna General Hospital where limited operating room time was available.

Brachytherapy involves the implantation of radiation sources directly into or around a tumour. This type of treatment is particularly effective for localized prostate and cervical cancer (cancer that has not spread).

“The on-site brachytherapy suite represents a significant expansion in the size and scope of the program,” says Dr. Ivo Olivotto, provincial leader for the BC Cancer Agency’s radiation therapy program. “The Centre for the Southern Interior will be able to meet the needs of Interior residents likely to benefit from brachytherapy. More than 150 brachytherapy procedures will be done in the new suite each year.”

“With this radiation therapy expansion, the BC Cancer Agency will have a network of 28 radiation therapy machines located in five regional centres across the province,” said Wynne Powell, board chair of the PHSA. “We are continuing to build upon one of the country’s best cancer care and treatment systems by investing in advances such as the scheduled completion of the province’s sixth cancer centre in Prince George in 2012.”

The BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for the Southern Interior opened in 1998, and is one of five regional centres that are at the heart of the Agency’s provincial cancer control network. The other centres are located in Vancouver, Victoria, Surrey, and Abbotsford, with a sixth centre scheduled for completion in 2012 in Prince George.

The BC Cancer Agency is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. The BC Cancer Foundation raises funds to support research and enhancements to patient care at the BC Cancer Agency. www.bccancer.bc.ca.


Media contacts:

Bernadette Murphy
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health Services
250 952-1887 (media line)
250 213-9590 (cell)

Papinder Rehncy
Communications
BC Cancer Agency
604 786-2235 (cell)
604 918-1043 (pager)

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.

Blue Divider Line

Recalling of drugs
Kelowna Capital News - By John Sherman - January 19, 2010

Recently Johnson & Johnson recalled some over the counter drugs that are common place in many people’s medicine cabinets.

This is the second time the company has done so in less than a month, this time because of a mouldy smell that has made people taking the medication sick.

These drugs were actually contaminated by a chemical used to treat wood on the pallets used to transport the raw ingredients of the drugs to the manufacturing plant.

The recall applies to some batches of Tylenol caplets and gel tabs.

Some Tylenol arthritis treatments, both rapid release and extended relief. Motrin IB, chewable extra-strength Rolaids, Benadryl allergy tablets and St. Joseph aspirin.

The symptoms that led to an investigation of the poisonings were very common symptoms for other ailments, such as vomiting, diarrhea and cramping.

Many patients showed up at the emergency room only to be told it was nothing to worry about.

Some people told me about their experience, where the tainted products they took ultimately resulted in a ride in the ambulance to the hospital.

Yes, pharmaceuticals do have there place in the medical world, but pills do have a tendency to be over-prescribed.

And dealing in the volumes that pharmaceutical companies manufacture of different products, it seems at least once a year recall notices are publicized.

Sometimes the potential for a recall is known about before the drug leaves the manufacturing facility, but it still leaves the plant because the cost of recalling or stopping production on a particular medication is more than what any lawsuit potentially might cost the company.

I don’t suggest you forego any prescriptions or over the counter medications that you choose to take, just realize that their are other alternatives out there.

Homeopathic remedies, for example, can offer many effective alternatives to drugs commonly used everyday whether prescription or OTC.

There is a Health Canada website— www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/compli-conform/recall-retrait/_list/index-eng.php or http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/alpha-eng.php— where you can view a list of recalled drugs and medical devices.

It may be a month or so behind, but it does offer some eye opening information.

It is interesting to note that there are literally thousands of products that have been recalled because of safety concerns for the user.

This also includes herbal products and imported foods that have been contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides at their countries of origin, such as China and India.

It is absolutely impossible to inspect every piece of cargo, food or drug that comes in or goes out of our country. For that reason alone, drug recalls will occur.

As I always say, educate yourself and keep on top of these things yourself. Go to the websites I listed above and start searching.

John Sherman is a professional homeopath in Kelowna.

250-764-2487

Cedarlake "at" telus.net

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_fpa-ape_2009/2009-213-eng.php

Blue Divider Line

Health centre still a concern
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - January 16, 2010

Enderby residents remain anxious over the future of health care services.

The Interior Health Authority is trying to hammer out a new funding contract with doctors who work at the Enderby Community Health Centre, and that has residents speculating the facility will close.

“People in the community are quite concerned about it,” said Mayor Dee Wejr.

“Rumours can start going around and they can become fact.”

However, IHA denies closure is an option.

“There are no substances to the rumours,” said Pat Furey, community administrator.

“Our intent is to keep the facility open. Our full intent is to work with the doctors to get a solution.”

The agreement with the doctors ends in March.

“We are continuing to work with the physicians and negotiations have continued,” said Furey, adding that a temporary extension to the contract could occur until a deal is inked.

But even if the contract with the doctors ends, Furey insists other services at the centre will continue.

Among the services are counselling, diabetic education, help to stop smoking, immunization clinics, Meals on Wheels, new baby visits, ambulatory care and a laboratory.

Wejr hopes IHA’s interpretation of events is accurate.

“We’ve been disappointed with IHA before but there are promising signs,” she said.

“They are continuing with negotiations and it looks hopeful. But if negotiations for the funding model don’t work out, they can’t continue with the service level.”

Enderby council has written MLA George Abbott on the matter, and Wejr wants assurances that the public’s needs are paramount.

“We want to make sure our voice is out there and things work out in a beneficial way for our community,” she said.

Blue Divider Line

N.B. couple separates to lower nursing-care costs
CBC News - Friday, December 11, 2009

A New Brunswick woman says she has no choice but to legally separate from her husband because she can't afford to pay for his nursing home care.

Judy MacKenzie, 66, says leaving her husband, Alton, just so he can qualify for lower care costs is not what she envisioned after 45 years of marriage.

'I think it's devastating that I have to, but there's no other way.'
—Judy MacKenzieBut the Department of Social Development decides how much clients pay for care based on their combined family income. And for MacKenzie, the cost is simply too high.

"I think it's devastating that I have to, but there's no other way," she said about separating from her husband, Alton.

In 2003, he had at least two strokes and has had to be cared for in a Miramichi nursing home ever since.

Judy MacKenzie, who now lives in Fredericton, says the bill for his care is about $2,500 a month and the government wants her to pay about $700 of that.

"It's just not realistic," she said. "It's just too much. I couldn't live the way I am living now, which is just ordinary living. I don't do anything special or anything."

After paying her rent, car payment and power bill, MacKenzie said she's left with less than $500 a month to cover groceries, prescriptions, gas and insurance.

The only way to pay less for her husband's care is to get a legal separation, she said.

So on Friday, he signed the papers to begin the process. Once it goes through, the cost of his care will be based solely on his income.

MacKenzie says it's not the best solution, but believes it's the only one now that she's living paycheque to paycheque.

"Alton's good about it," she says. "He knows it's not going to change anything about me visiting him or anything like that — I'm not that type of person.

"But you know it is quite a sad thing…. The lawyer even thought it was. She even teared up, you know, to think."

The Department of Social Development won't comment on individual cases, but a spokesperson said the government offers financial assistance to clients who struggle to pay for care.

Blue Divider Line

VJH operational services review
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 51096
Nov 26, 2009 / 3:00 pm


Interior Health has received the report of Medical Management Consulting which conducted a review of the operational services of Vernon Jubilee Hospital and the services offered in the communities of the North Okanagan.

“The review is very timely as Interior Health, physicians and staff plan for opening Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s new patient care tower in 2011,” says Pat Furey, Health Services Administrator for the North Okanagan.

The scope of work included identifying resources and utilization rates (community, acute and residential care) within North Okanagan communities including Revelstoke and Salmon Arm, and comparing these with the other five large sites in Interior Health (Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Trail and Cranbrook) and with two other external comparison sites Langley Memorial Hospital and Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock.


The report has identified a number of different areas where administration, staff and physicians can focus to build for the future:

  •Review bed supply and requirement projections

  •Examine whether more inpatient cases can safely be converted to day procedures

  •Establish an OR Management Committee with physicians, administration, nursing and support staff

  •Create an OR Utilization Committee with OR access based upon set criteria including surgeons’ wait times

  •Establish a task group to examine emergency surgery volumes

  •Strengthen and develop medical leadership.

“We recognize there are challenges,” says Dr. Doug Hardy, Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee. “The North Okanagan is a large and growing area, with a high number of people over age 65. Vernon Jubilee consistently manages high occupancy rates and we know this places a strain on the physicians and staff. However, we intend this to be a collaborative process and we will address the report’s recommendations together with Interior Health so we are on the best possible footing when the new tower opens.”

An Implementation Committee has been established to oversee progress over the coming months the Implementation Committee has representation from VJH physicians and Interior Health administration.

A project manager has also been appointed and will begin work with the Implementation Committee immediately.

The report is available on the Interior Health website.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon September 10, 2009 Governance & Services Committee Meeting Minutes

4. Regional Parks Services

4.1 Douglas Fir Tussock Moth Update - Forested Crown & Private Lands in the Central Okanagan

In follow-up to the August 13th Governance and Services Committee meeting staff were asked to report back whether there is a role for the Regional District to work with the Ministry of Forests on local infestation of the moth as well as whether there
is an issue with regional properties that need to be addressed. Staff reviewed the areas of concern within the Regional District and the role of the District including talking to Interior Health.

Staff report dated August 25th outlined the areas of known infestation in the region.

Ministry of Forest mapping has not yet been completed and the severity level is currently unknown. Based upon the results of further survey, staff anticipate seeking Board approval to partner with the Ministry in any future Ministry sponsored aerial spraying application for the Trepanier Valley and Coldham Regional Park. Appropriate funding levels will need to be determined for the 2010 Regional Parks budget.

#GS76/09 SHEPHERD/EDGSON
THAT the August 25, 2009 staff report on the Douglas Fire Tussock Moth update be received;

AND FURTHER THAT staff be directed to contact Interior Health (medical staff) and municipal staff to provide information regarding the affect of the Moth on public health;

AND FURTHER THAT staff continue to update the Board on issues related to the Moth and infestation within the Central Okanagan.

CARRIED

-------------------------

FYI - The Tussock Moth is a serious health hazard and can cause reactions in people.  It is also very devastating to trees, including some decorator trees that could be growing in your own yard.

This tree is located near the Spallumcheen Industrial Park near Armstrong BC and was already attacked by the Tussock Moth.  The woman whom lived in the house next to the trees had itchy legs from a reaction to the Tussock Moth during the active season.  She did not know why she had itchy legs and went to the doctor for cream to put on her legs.  It wasn't until a pest control company stopped in to notify the owner of what was wrong his trees that it was found out about how the Tussock Moth can cause reactions in people.
Picture of a tree near Armstrong BC that was infested with the Tussock Moth

 

This is a photo is of a left over of the Tussock Moth.
Tussock Moth left over.

 

This is a photo of the Tussock Moth Cocoon on a branch.  The cocoons are found on the underside of the branches on this tree.
Picture of the Tussock Moth Coccon on the tree branch.

----------------------------------

August 13, 2009 - Governance & Services Committee Meeting Minutes

3. Delegations

3.1 Lorraine Maclauchlan, Ph.D. Forest Entomologist, Ministry of Forests and Range - Southern Interior Region, Stewardship Section - re: Pest management in Crown forests L. Maclauchlan addressed the committee and provided a review of the Province's pest management in Crown forests and in particular pests around your home.

Information on the Douglas-Fir Tussock moth, treatment and control, as well as recognizing the Western Spruce budworm was highlighted.

  • Outbreak of the Douglas-Fir and Tussock moth was reviewed. It was noted the Tussock moth may cause allergic reactions to humans, horses and dogs.

  • Mapping is being done in Kamloops, South Okanagan, Similkameen and Rock Creek to Christina Lake. Outbreak is bad in areas of Trepanier, Glenmore Road, and the Kelowna airport area. Outbreaks often start on private lands. Outbreaks last for a period of approximately four years.

  • The outbreak in the Okanagan is at approximately year one. By year two or three the outbreak is often rampant. If the Ministry can treat early, the outbreak would cause less damage. It was noted that trees do not necessarily die in the first year but only defoliate.

  • Management options were reviewed. When, why or where would you spray. It was noted that this is a naturally occurring pest.

  • Ministry policy at the present time is to use virus (NPV).

  • Cost estimates were reviewed using B.t.k. and NPV.

  • Is there a role the Regional District can play to inform the public? Communicating the potential problem is important in order to inform the public ie: Trepanier is a new area of outbreak.

  • If spraying were to occur in rural areas, all communities would have to agree as you can't spray a 'stop, gap' method. Ministry gets signed position from homeowners and in an area all homeowners would have to agree before spraying would occur.

  • The Thompson Nicola Regional District has contributed funds to spray on private lands assisting the Ministry with the spray program in the area. Their criteria was 'land had to sit next to Crown lands'.

  • The spray is only available from the Province or Federal governments, It's a biological agent and does require special handling methods. Forest services decides when it might be appropriate and how to use it.

#GS63/09 HODGE/BAKER
THAT the presentation by Lorraine Maclauchlan, Ph.D. Forest Entomologist, Ministry of Forests and Range - Southern Interior Region, Stewardship Section regarding Pest management in Crown forests be received.

CARRIED

The Committee discussed:
Whether residents can contact the Ministry directly if there is an issue in their area. Yes, they can and should.

Should an education campaign be communicated by the Regional District? There is time to review as it is too late for spraying this year. Information from staff is needed on what the risks are within the Regional District first before expectations are created. It may be helpful if there were some well timed articles on the moth directly to the medical profession as well as the public. The medical profession needs to be aware that over the next few years reactions may occur to some sections of the population and be educated in order to treat properly.

#GS64/09 EDGSON/BAKER
THAT staff be directed to report back to the Governance and Services Committee if there is a role for local government working with the Ministry of Forests on local infestation of the Douglas-Fir and Tussock moth; as well as whether there is an issue with regional properties that needs to be addressed in the future.

CARRIED

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon June 22, 2009 Highlights of the Regional Board Meeting

Regional Hospital District

The Board of the Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District has received the 2008 Financial Statements and Reports. The Regional Hospital District had total revenues of $11.1million and expenditures of $10.1 million during the fiscal year.

The Regional Hospital District ended the 2008 fiscal year with an operating surplus of $5.3 million.

The Regional Hospital District Board has approved nine expenditure bylaws providing 40 per cent of the funding or just over $2.6 million towards for capital projects and equipment requested by Interior Health for the Central Okanagan. Among the projects approved:

  • expansion of the TeleHomeCare Monitoring program,

  • a Cardiology Picture Archiving System,

  • a Chemistry Analyzer and a

  • Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography CT.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon April 27, 2009 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

d) BC Ambulance

The question was raised regarding correspondence which has been circulating to local governments regarding working conditions and contractual issues for the BC Ambulance attendants.

It was noted that they will be addressing West Kelowna Council later this week.

By consensus staff were requested to circulate information to the Board on BC Ambulance operations.

Blue Divider Line

Bill C-51

Allow laws to be created in Canada, behind closed doors, with the assistance of foreign governments, industrial and trade organizations (Section 30.7)

Blue Divider Line

CBC News on Bill C-51
May 9, 2008

Critics feel the bill will outlaw up to 60 per cent of natural health products currently sold in Canada, making many natural health products that have been sold in Canada for decades unavailable for purchase and penalizing parents who give herbs or supplements to their children.

They also argue that the government could designate any natural health product a prescription drug, making it available by prescription only. They say these types of provisions will force small companies out of the market.

Blue Divider Line

How one smoker remembers health care.
The government told smokers they were raising the tobacco tax significantly to cover health care costs.  Supposedly smokers cost the health care system a lot more than the average Joe, even though some smokers die early.

Blue Divider Line

In B.C., premiums are payable for MSP coverage and are based on family size and income. The monthly rates are:

$54 for one person
$96 for a family of two
$108 for a family of three or more

Regular premium assistance offers subsidies ranging from 20 to 100 per cent, based on an individual's net income (or a couple's combined net income) for the preceding tax year, less deductions for age, family size and disability. If the resulting amount referred to as "adjusted net income" is $28,000 or below, a subsidy is available.

------------------------------------------------

One single pack a day smoker can pay more than $108.59 tax on cigarettes in one month! That's just tax!

$35.80 tax per carton divided by 10 packs in a carton = $3.58 tax per per package of cigarettes.

$3.58 per pack times 7 days a week = $25.06 per week tax

$25.06 per week tax x 52 weeks in a year = $1,303.12 tax per year

$1,303.12 divided by 12 months = $108.59 a smoker pays in tax per month if they smoke one pack a day.

There is still G.S.T. to add to the $108.59 tax per month yet, and that is just tax and does not include the cost of the cigarettes.  Tobacco addicts are already down and out and broke because of their addiction, and then the government has to go and make these addicts feel even worse by tossing these addicts to the freezing cold, and on top of that steal their money!  The government is a thief and has no heart, honestly!  Cake, cookies, potato chips, beer, vehicle emissions, just about everything is bad for us.  Does that give government an excuse to mismanage our taxes and steal money?

The shortage of healthcare money could be more attributed to things like this:

Taxpayers get shafted by government

Blue Divider Line

TAXPAYERS GET SHAFTED BY GOVERNMENT

Go Up
article regarding the existing Vernon Jubilee Hospital
tower expansion planned years ago.
as published in the Vernon Morning Star April 30, 2008
Future expansion of existing VJH tower letters article. All that extra money was spent thinking of the future.
click letter to read larger print
Snippets from letters article published in the Vernon Morning Star:
The entire mechanical systems are all double what was necessary and that tower was designed for three more floors.
All that extra money was spent thinking of the future.

Blue Divider Line

Some latex examination gloves being used by dentists and doctors across Canada contain flies, larvae and unidentified black matter, a Global B.C. investigation has revealed.

The news reported on June 6, 2008 6:00 PM newscast that the U.S. knew about the embedded bugs in surgical gloves and discontinued using them in 2006.  The news also said that Health Canada didn't know about the bugs imbedded in the surgical gloves until the media reported on it this year 2008.

Blue Divider Line

A technician in Dr. Victor Hasson's Vancouver hair replacement clinic first noticed something strange about one of the gloves imported by Calgary-based distributor, Hedy Canada.

A look through a high-powered microscope not only revealed flies with their wings still attached embedded in the gloves, but also metallic black matter.

Independent lab tests confirmed the presence of flies, matter consistent with larvae, unidentified black material and also showed there were holes in most of the nine gloves inspected.

Source Canada.com

Blue Divider Line

IHA ‘bungling’ alarms eye care society
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - Published: February 27, 2009

The Interior Eye Care Society believes Interior Health Authority’s (IHA) financial eyes are closed when it comes to funding the Lions Vision Centre in Armstrong.

Thus, executive members are recommending the society’s imminent dissolution, citing what society president John Trainor calls “bureaucratic bungling” as the main reason.

“We always seem to be having to kick open the door in order to throw money into the centre,” said Trainor.

In a two-page release issued to North Okanagan media, and to IHA, which pays for the nursing staff at the vision centre, Trainor said the final straw came in late 2007.

A request was put forward by Vernon eye physician Dr. Mathias Fellenz, who Trainor said has performed numerous surgeries at the Lions Vision Centre, for a $150,000 state-of-the-art machine used in the diagnosis and treatment of retinal disease, and diagnosing glaucoma.

The Eye Care Society states it committed $90,000 to the purchase price, and felt it could raise another significant amount before payment was required.

A financial plan was submitted to Interior Health, showing that the machine would provide revenue and pay for itself within five years, a plan the society said was supported by Peter DuToit, then North Okanagan administrator for IHA, and Assunta Shepherd, health services director.

According to the society, the head of the IHA’s finance department, based in Kelowna, questioned whether the Okanagan needed this machine, and the society’s request was turned down.

“There’s probably a feeling at Interior Health that Kelowna is the centre of the universe, and if something’s not in Kelowna, they can’t control and keep an eye on it, then they don’t want it,” said Trainor.

Shepherd, now acting community administrator for North Okanagan after DuToit transferred to other IHA duties, said there’s a process everyone in Interior Health is required to follow when it comes to capital purchases.

“When we were requested to look at capital projects, the dollars for that year had already been assigned, and the wish list already decided upon,” said Shepherd.

“Their number one choice on the list was their laser machine, which did get purchased. The laser was the number one choice as it was the only piece of equipment that had outlived its life expectancy.”

Dr. Fellenz, according to Trainor, purchased the $150,000 machine for his practice in Vernon after IHA turned down the request to have the machine bought for the vision centre.

The society states it has a “very real fear” that IHA is doing a behind-the-doors closure of the Lions Vision Centre.

“As the numbers drop, and fewer and fewer procedures are done, they’ll probably find some reason to close it down,” said Trainor.

“That’s our real concern here.”

Shepherd emphatically denied the society’s claim.

“That’s never been discussed,” said Shepherd about a possible closure.

IHA would like to sit down and talk with the society before they put a dissolution motion forward to its members.

“Hopefully we can get them convinced, but I’d rather them not dissolve,” said Shepherd.

“They’ve been a great support since we put the Lions Vision Centre in Armstrong. They have made major contributions to the equipment out there.”

Founded in May 2002 to enhance eye care in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, the society’s specific purpose was to provide financial help to the Lions Vision Centre, located in the Pleasant Valley Health Centre in Armstrong.

“Our idea was to have a centre of excellence for eye care in the Interior of B.C.,” said Trainor. “We have patients coming from Salmon Arm and Kamloops, some from Vernon and Kelowna, lots from Revelstoke and the Kootenays. I don’t have the exact numbers but thousands of procedures have been performed there.”

The society, which has 38 members, has contribute more than $194,000 to the Lions Vision Centre, including the completion of the eye examination room, purchase of a new surgical chair, creation of a $20,000 endowment fund with the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, and a commitment of $95,000 toward purchase of a new laser.

Trainor said the society’s members will be presented with the dissolution recommendation at the group’s annual general meeting in April.

Blue Divider Line

Canadian family stricken with Lyme Disease give $500,000
Keremeos Review - February 17, 2009

West Kelowna, BC – An Ontario family recently donated $500,000 to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CanLyme.com) towards funding an independent research facility in Canada after two members of the family fell seriously ill with Lyme disease.

The family members, who wish to remain anonymous, became ill and were left with no answers after extensive Canadian testing. The pair subsequently went to the United States where with more aggressive investigation doctors promptly diagnosed them with Lyme disease and began treatment. They continue to improve.

CanLyme president Jim Wilson said, “This family struggled within the Canadian health care system, as are thousands of Canadians, and were let down by poor testing and a false confidence within the medical community that Lyme disease is rare in Canada. The medical leadership in Canada, including the federal and provincial governments are letting us down. Doctors and patients are not told of the serious limitations of the tests used - limitations acknowledged by the global science community.”

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by ticks. Ticks are brought into Canada in the hundreds of millions each season on migratory birds and are spread randomly across Canada following migratory bird flyways. You do not need to live in or have visited a known endemic area to become infected as some government agencies and medical organizations suggest.

Inadequate testing, inconsistent reporting criteria, limited surveillance and poor clinical diagnostic knowledge have resulted in less than 50 cases of Lyme disease being reported yearly in Canada. On the other hand, the United States reports over 25,000 cases of Lyme disease annually – mainly in states adjacent to the Canadian border. Due to under-reporting the US Center for Disease Control estimates that annual cases in the US could actually be 200,000. The European Union confirms in excess of 85,000 cases annually.

Lyme disease, the fastest growing infectious disease in the northern hemisphere, is known as the “Great Imitator.” It is a multi-system, multi-organ infection and can cause numerous symptoms including extreme fatigue, arthritis, heart abnormalities, bowel and digestive problems, abnormal skin sensations, muscle weakness or jerking, eyesight or hearing abnormalities, cognitive and memory difficulties, dementia, and in some cases paralysis.

Lyme disease is commonly misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Parkinson’s disease, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. CanLyme says research, including post-mortem study, is required utilizing all of today’s technology to determine how frequently these other diagnoses are in fact caused by Lyme disease. We know a percentage are in fact Lyme disease, what we don’t know is what that percentage is.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5 Comments

by blaze24
Dr. Becker even mentions Lyme in either 'The Body Electric' or 'Cross Currents'...

'The Body Electric' by Robert O. Becker, M.D. - (pages 276-278)

Subliminal Stress

"After Howard Friedman, Charlie Bachman, and I had found evidence that "abnormal natural" fields from solar magnetic storms were effecting the human mind as reflected in psychiatric hospital admissions, we decided the time had come for direct experiments with people. We exposed volunteers to magnetic fields placed so the lines of force passed through the brain from ear to ear, cutting across the brainstem-frontal current. The fields were 5 to 11 gauss, not much compared with the 3,000 gauss needed to put a salamander to sleep, but ten to twenty times earth's background and well above the level of most magnetic storms. We measured their influence on a standard test of reaction time - having subjects press a button as fast as possible in response to a red light. Steady fields produced no effect, but when we modulated the field with a slow pulse of a cycle every 5 seconds (one of the delta wave frequencies we'd observed in salamander brains during a change from one level of consciousness to another), people's reactions slowed down. We found no changes in the EEG or the front-to-back voltage from fields up to 100 gauss, but these indicators reflect major alterations in awareness, so we didn't expect them to shift.

We were excited, eagerly planning experiments that would tell us more, when we came upon a frightening Russian report. Yuri Kholodov had administered steady magnetic fields of 100 and 200 gauss to rabbits and found areas of cell death in their brains during autopsy. Although his fields were ten times as strong as ours, we stopped all human experiments immediately.

Friedman decided to duplicate Kholodov's experiment with a more detailed analysis of the brain tissue. He made the slides and sent them to an expert on rabbit brain diseases, but coded them so no one knew which were which until later.

The report showed that all the animals had been infected with a brain parasite that was peculiar to rabbits and common throughout the world. However, in half the animals the protozoa had been under control by the immune system, whereas the other half they'd routed the defenders and destroyed parts of their brain. The expert suggested that we must have done something to undermine resistance of the rabbits in the experimental group. The code confirmed that most of the brain damage had occurred in animals subjected to the magnetic fields. Later, Friedman did biochemical tests on another series of rabbits and found that the fields were causing a generalized stress reactions marked by large amounts of cortisone in the bloodstream. This is the response called forth by a prolonged stress, like a disease, that isn't an immediate threat to life, as opposed to the fight-or-flight response generated by adrenaline.

Soon thereafter, Friedman measured cortisone levels in monkeys exposed to 200-gauss magnetic fields for four hours a day. They showed the stress response for six days, but it then subsided, suggesting adaptation to the field. Such seeming tolerance of continued stress is illusory, however. In his pioneering lifework on stress, Dr. Hans Selye has clearly drawn the invariable pattern: Initially, the stress activates the hormonal and/or immune systems to a higher-than-normal level, enabling the animal to escape danger or combat disease. If the stress continues, hormone levels and immune activity gradually decline to normal. If you stop your experiment at this point, you're apparently justified in saying, "The animal has adapted; the stress is doing it no harm." Nevertheless, if the stressful condition persists, hormone and immune levels decline further, well below normal. In medical terms, stress decompensation has set in, and the animal is now more susceptible to other stressors, including malignant growth and infectious disease.

In the mid-1970's, two Russian groups found stress hormones released in rats exposed to microwaves, even if they were irradiated only briefly by minute amounts of energy. Other Eastern European work found the same reaction to 50-hertz electric fields. Several Russian and Polish groups have since established that after prolonged exposure the activation of the stress system changes to a depression of it in the familiar pattern, indicating exhaustion of the adrenal cortex. There has even been one report of hemorrhage and cell damage in the adrenal cortex from a month's exposure to a 50-hertz, 130-gauss magnetic field.

Soviet biophysicist N. A. Udintsev has systematically studied the effects of one ELF magnetic field (200 gauss at 50hz) on the endocrine system. In addition to the "slow" stress response we've been discussing, he found activation of the "fast" fight-or-flight hormones centering on adrenaline from the adrenal medulla. This response was triggered in rats by just one day in Udinstev's field, and hormone levels didn't return to normal for one or two weeks. Udinstev also documented an insulin insufficiency and rise in blood sugar from the same field.

One aspect of the syndrome was very puzzling. When undergoing these hormonal changes, an animal would normally be aware that its body was under attack, yet, as far as we could tell, the rabbits were not. They showed no outward signs of fear, agitation, or illness. Most humans certainly wouldn't be able to detect a 100-gauss magnetic field, at least not consciously. Only several years after Friedman's work did anyone find out how this was happening.

In 1976 a group under J. J. Noval at the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory at Pensacola, Florida, found the slow stress response in rats from very weak electric fields, as low as five thousandths of a volt per centimeter. They discovered that when such fields vibrated in the ELF range, they increased levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brainstem, apparently in a way that activated a distress signal subliminally, without the animal's becoming aware of it. The scariest part was that the fields Noval used were well within the background levels of a typical office, with its overhead lighting, typewriters, computers, and other equipment. Workers in such an environment are exposed to electric fields between a hundredth and a tenth of a volt per centimeter and magnetic fields between a hundredth and a tenth of a gauss."
reply edit record video comment reblog flag
blaze24


by blaze24
Mobile Phone Emissions Increase Worm Fertility:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1889-mobile-phone-emissions-increase-worm-fertility.html

Notice how the Lyme epidemic parallels the cell phone boom?

'Cross Currents' by Robert O. Becker M.D. – page 72.

"In 1975, Professor Richard Blakemore, also of Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, became intrigued by the strange behavior of some bacteria he was studying. Blakemore noticed that the bacteria always clustered at the north side of their culture dish. Even if he turned the dish so that they were at the south end and left it overnight, the next morning the bacteria were back at the north side. While such “magnetotrophic” bacteria had been described before, no one had ever done what Blakemore did next: he looked at them under the electron microscope. What he found was astonishing. Each bacterium contained a chain of tiny magnets! The magnets were actually crystals of the naturally magnetic mineral magnetite, the original lodestone of preliterate peoples. Somehow, the bacteria absorbed the soluble components from the water and put them together in their bodies as the insoluble crystalline chain.

Later studies showed that this arrangement was of value to these bacteria, which lived in the mud on the bottom of shallow bays and marshes. If they were moved by the tide or by storm waves, their magnetic chains were large enough (in comparison to their body size) to physically turn their bodies so that they pointed down at an angle corresponding to the direction of magnetic north. All the bacteria had to do was swim in that direction, and sooner or later they would be back in the mud. This was an interesting mechanism, but it did not contain any sophisticated information transfer. The bacteria did not “know” that north was the way to swim; they just did so. However, these observations opened up a much more interesting series of investigations."
blaze24

by scubamom
As a Lyme Disease sufferer from the Okanagan it is critical to the people of this country that better testing, clinical diagnosis, and treatment (long-term) be available. We are sick individuals who have lost everything while our governments continue to turn a blind eye. The medical profession should be ashamed of their actions and held accountable for their misdiagnosis over and over again. This has caused severe suffering amongst those who are innocent victims. The band-aid approach to this disease in this country should appall every single citizen. It is real and most of us are banished from society and left to die. With appropriate treatment (long-term) our lives could be restored. Telling us it is in our heads or passing the buck doesn't solve anything. I'm so angry and never had any idea the devastation this disease could cause. Please wake up Canada and work together on this.
scubamom

by opiekitty
Gifts like these will ultimately help the thousands of people struggling to get a proper diagnosis treatment in a timely manner. Thank you to the donors. I don't understand why mainstream medicine and our government agencies (United States included) turn such a blind eye to this terrible illness and fight to oppose and put out of business those MD's who recognize Lyme's severity and are willing to treat us with longterm antibiotics. Without those few brave Drs, I would most certainly have been dead by now.
opiekitty

Blue Divider Line

Doctors question emergency room upgrade
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: January 23, 2009

The latest in technology will help streamline Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s emergency department, but some doctors insist it’s not enough.

An electronic patient tracking system is being installed in the emergency department at a cost of $164,000. It will provide all of the details needed to assess and treat a patient.

“As there is always grid lock and code purples and complete congestion, this board will be of little value. We need more funded beds,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, former VJH medical staff president.

“Without more funded beds at VJH, this board and anything else introduced will be of little help to patients and health care workers. We have had more code purples and a greater amount of over capacities with patients having no proper beds since all our previous cries for help several months ago.”

Dr. Ed Hardy, current medical staff president, has mixed views about the new tracking system.

“The ER docs should be able to see and evaluate patients more efficiently and move them through the department more quickly, but if they end up admitted, they might still end up stuck in ER if there are no beds elsewhere An electronic board of any colour won’t fix that problem,” said Hardy.

Installation of the tracking system comes at the same time that construction has been launched on the new $160 million patient care tower.

“The new tower does nothing to address the critical bed shortage we have had yesterday, we have today, and we will have tomorrow and even well past the day the new tower opens,” said Cunningham.

“We need the government to commit to funding more beds immediately and commit to funding beds in the two extra floors shelled into the new tower.”

George Abbott, health minister, anticipates beds could be developed in the one shelled-in floor after the tower opens in 2011, and the second one some time after that.

“The beds will come as needed and clearly they are needed,” he said, adding that the tower project is an indication of the government taking the doctors’ concerns seriously.

“All of that is needed to relieve pressure on a really good hospital. It’s one of the biggest projects in B.C.”

With the tracking system, doctors and nurses will have access to information like triage level, bed number, symptoms and updates on lab orders. It will eliminate the need to manually track down these details.

“It won’t alleviate code purple but it will allow us to use the space more effectively,” said Dr. Manish Bhatt, emergency department head.

“The white board will allow us to continue to see patients effectively and quickly. We want to take care of our patients and community and this will help.”

Blue Divider Line

New clinic serves community’s needs
By Natalie Appleton - Vernon Morning Star - Published: January 27, 2009

At lunch just eight days after opening its doors, the Haugen Community Healthcare Centre has all the looks of a new medical office — wet paint signs, empty chairs, soon to be filled by waiting patients reading magazines; and sticky notes on the lab cupboards so the doctors know where to find things over the first few weeks.

It’s a sight Dr. Richard Sherwin didn’t think he’d see a year ago.

“This is what I thought had to happen...but I didn’t really believe it could happen without government support.”

Last February, when Sherwin left a packed town hall meeting, held to address an impending doctor shortage that could have left Armstrong with only one doctor by June, he wasn’t feeling optimistic. Sherwin, who had announced he would soon be leaving after the doctor he shared a practice with did the same, had suggested a subsidized and staffed group clinic could attract four physicians by fall.

The public, in the form of 120 people at Oddfellows Hall and later 1,000 signatures; along with Sherwin, made a plea to the Interior Health Authority to help make the multi-doctor facility a reality. They were told the money just wasn’t there.

But that was hardly the end of it. In fact, it was the beginning of a push by the public and the Haugen Community Healthcare Society to raise enough money for and find an office space.

Sherwin said he’d stay. So did his wife, Dr. Maureen Clement. So did Dr. Kira McClellan and Dr. Reta Kutsche, who had both worked temporarily with Sherwin.

“We hadn’t anything to promise them. They had to trust us,” said society spokesman Nick Watkins. The community took a leap of faith, too, setting aside questions of why they should donate to a doctors’ facility for the promise they were made.

If they didn’t do it, Watkins told doubters, there would be no doctors in Armstrong. Residents would have to go to Enderby or Vernon for that, and they’d start getting their prescriptions there, too, maybe do some shopping while they’re there.

“Inexorably, the town would die, little by little,” said Watkins. And no one wanted that.

By July, the society announced it had secured enough money for a 3,700-square-foot space in Pharmacy Plaza, above the Century 21 offices. The doctors bought computers from a local store, hung an Armstrong artist’s painting on a wall. A handful of residents brought their hammers and helped build.

When government walked away, the community stepped up.

“People started coming out of the woodwork with abilities to add,” said Sherwin.

“It’s a great community success story because it will be here in the future and it will attract doctors for years to come.”

On Jan. 12, the Haugen Centre, named after Armstrong’s revered Dr. Ragnnvald Haugen, opened.

Sitting in one of the doctors’ offices (there are two, in addition to eight examining rooms and one for visiting nurses or specialists) with a window overlooking Highway 97 and a few unpacked boxes on the floor, McClellan said the Haugen Centre already feels like home.

“I think it feels great. Everything was so temporary until now. We were looking for a place to settle in and this feels right,” said McClellan, who, like her peers, will handle nearly 1,100 patients in the office.

“It’s the legacy for the future. This is what this town needs for its primary care. Without it, its primary care would have been in jeopardy,” she said.

That’s the message the society’s campaign team is sending as it continues to ask for support so it can raise $750,000 over three years to pay for the renovations and equipment and later, to buy the office space.

“Our pitch to the community is let’s buy the place, and then it’s here in perpetuity,” said Watkins, preparing for the centre’s ribbon cutting Saturday.

Public viewing of the facility will be at 10 a.m., with official ceremonies at 11 a.m.

Sherwin believes the Haugen Centre will become a house for doctors for decades to come.

“It’s at the leading edge of the way practices are being set up and what’s available in Canada,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Patients receive e-mail greetings
Vernon Morning Star - Community - Published: December 18, 2008

This Christmas, stay connected with loved ones in the hospital or in residential care homes through a new program called EWishes.

The Interior Health Authority’s volunteer services department has launched EWishes – a program that provides family and friends an opportunity to e-mail loved ones in the hospital or in residential care homes. Volunteer Services monitor the e-mails daily, and volunteers deliver the messages to patients and residents after 4 p.m.

“We’ve had very positive feedback on this program so far,” said Debbie Weir, manager of volunteer services.

“Not only does it provide an opportunity for friends and loved ones to keep in touch, but it also creates an opportunity for our volunteers to have more personal interaction and contact with patients and residents.”

EWishes is currently available for patients at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and residents of Noric House, Gateby and Parkview Place. Plans are currently underway to extend the program to include Polson Extended Care.

To e-mail a patient at Vernon Jubilee Hospital: patient.vjh [at] interiorhealth.ca.

To e-mail a resident of Noric House: resident.noric [at] interiorhealth.ca.

To e-mail a resident of Gateby: resident.gateby [at] interiorhealth.ca.

To e-mail a resident at Parkview Place Residential Home: resident.pvp [at] interiorhealth.ca.

Blue Divider Line

Tuberculosis makes a comeback in the Central Okanagan
By Adrian Nieoczym - Kelowna Capital News - Published: December 16, 2008

Since May, Interior Health has identified six active cases of tuberculosis in the Central Okanagan.

“There is little or no risk to the general population, as TB transmission requires significant close exposure to a person with active TB who displays symptoms such as coughing,” said IH medical health officer, Dr. Paul Hasselback.

The TB cases have cropped up among people living what IH calls a street-orientated lifestyle. And while the TB strain in the Central Okanagan is the same as the one at the centre of a TB outbreak among the street-orientated population in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, that does not mean the people in the Central Okanagan got it from there.

“Most of the cases have contracted it here in the Central Okanagan,” said Dr, Hasselback.

These cases are unusual however, as IH does not normally see any locally acquired cases of TB.

“Our most common tuberculosis (is among people)who have either been exposed to it a long time ago, and what we have is reactivation,” said Dr. Hasselback, “or who have been travelling to places that have commonly identified tuberculosis,” such as Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

However, he added that there has been a resurgence of TB among people living on the street.

“That is because of the living conditions that they get exposed to,” Hasselback said. “Certainly living in shelters is fairly tight quarters, not necessarily the level of accommodation that most people are accustomed to. It is a sort of concentrated environment where we would more likely see transmission of tuberculosis occurring, in a population that also may not be as well nourished.”

Doctors and health workers have been asked by IH to be alert for people at risk for TB.

So far, 125 at-risk people in the Central Okanagan have had a skin test which identifies infected people who have not fallen ill. A handful of additional people have been identified who have been exposed at some point in their life to TB and they are now being offered treatment or ongoing testing.

Treatment of active TB is usually provided for a period of nine to 12 months.

The people most at risk for contracting TB are:

• People who have close contact with someone who has active TB, such as living in the same house as someone who is infected with TB

• People who travel to or were born in places where untreated TB is common, such as Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe

• Caregivers of a patient who has active TB, such as doctors or nurses

• People who live or work in crowded places such as prisons, nursing homes, or homeless shelters, where other people may have active TB

• People who have poor access to health care, such as homeless people and migrant farm workers

• People who abuse drugs or alcohol

• People who have HIV or another illness that weakens their immune system.

If you need more information on TB, visit HealthLinkBC at www.healthlinkbc.ca, and view the TB information page, or contact your local public health unit or family doctor.

Blue Divider Line

More doctors recruited
Vernon Morning Star - News - Published: December 05, 2008

More doctors are practicing in the North Okanagan.

Since September 2007, the Interior Health Authority has helped recruit 10 new physicians for Armstrong and Vernon.

“As a health authority, as communities, and as physician practices, we need to determine what we can individually and collectively bring to the table to entice candidates,” said Cathy Stashyn, IHA’s leader of physician recruitment.

“Given recruitment challenges in today’s market, Interior Health is using a comprehensive marketing strategy to get candidates to the door, while physician groups and communities are providing the reasons to stay.”

In Armstrong, three physicians, including one long-term locum, have been recruited.

In Vernon, there are five new family doctors, an orthopedic surgeon and a psychiatrist.

The health authority tracks physician interest in employment, counting contacts generated via its website and marketing strategies, along with those generated by the Health Match B.C. referral system and direct contact with communities.

Since September 2007, 440 physicians have enquired about positions within the Southern Interior. Of those, 70 physicians have accepted positions.

“This is a very successful hire rate, considering the competitive labour market, and that the majority of candidates are international medical graduates who must demonstrate eligibility to practice in the province,” said Stashyn.

“We are very pleased that one in every six physicians is choosing an Interior Health community.”

Blue Divider Line

VJH visitor parking relocated
Vernon Morning Star - News - Published: December 04, 2008

Construction of the new patient care tower is leading to more changes to parking at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Visitor parking will be relocated to the current staff parking lot just across the entrance to the hospital in the southwest corner of the main VJH site (corner of 32nd Street and 21st Avenue).

Visitor parking will also be available in the new parking lot south of 21st Avenue.

Staff and volunteer parking will also be available in the new parking lots south of 21st Avenue.

Staff and volunteer parking will continue to be available on the northwest side of the current hospital. The physician parking on the west side of the hospital remains unchanged

Staff parking will also be available in the upper (east) portion of the Polson extended care parking lot.

In addition to parking changes, there will also be changes to traffic patterns in some areas of the VJH site. Watch for signage and flagpersons.

Blue Divider Line

More beds needed at VJH
Vernon Morning Star - Opinion - Published: November 18, 2008

There were a lot of smiles and pats on the back as Premier Gordon Campbell sunk a shovel into the ground Monday to kick off construction of a $178 million patient tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

And that's no surprise as the project is extremely good news. Once open in May 2011, the seven-storey building will significantly enhance health care in the North Okanagan. Whether you are a senior, an expectant mother or someone requiring surgery, the modern, expanded facilities will prove beneficial.

But as much as this new tower project is welcome news, it should only be considered the first step in improving health care locally.

The next step should come immediately and that is to complete the two shelled-in floors that will be built in the tower for future patient care beds.

Because even with the new intensive care unit, operating rooms and maternal/child department, there could still be overcrowding if there aren't sufficient beds for a growing population.

It's a message that was sent loud and clear to Campbell.

"Perhaps then we can lift the all too common purple haze that hangs over VJH," said Wayne Steward, the hospital's chief of medical staff, of the need for more beds.

With work on the tower set to begin early in the new year, the provincial government and the Interior Health Authority must set clear timelines for opening the two floors dedicated for beds, and put the funding in place.

It will only be then that the long-term health care needs of the North Okanagan will truly be met.

---------------------------------

Comment

The government doesn't have enough money for healthcare but they sure have enough money to get older vehicles off the road. This only leaves the poorer people that need to buy these old cars, forced to buy a newer vehicle instead and whatever happened to the 3 R's; reduce, re-use, and then recycle? What happens if the big 3 automakers go under in this economic climate... the big 3 did ask the governments to bail them out because they are broke. If this were my house I surely wouldn't be giving $15 million for a Scrap It program like this when that money is so desperately needed elsewhere.

RDCO Governance & Services Committee Meeting Minutes - October 9, 2008 (Pg. 4)
The region's Cash for Clunkers program is finished and will now become a BC Scrap It Program with $15 mil in provincial funding. The new program will start next month in the Central Okanagan. The main goal of the program is to get old vehicles off the road.
http://www.regionaldistrict.com/docs/boards_committees/gov/mins/2008/GS_08_10_09Minutes.pdf

Don't forget this new tower won't be ready for two years yet, and we have endured code purple for many years already.

Blue Divider Line

Improvements are needed
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: November 18, 2008

As many of you have read letters concerning VJH, I would like to add my recent experience with our health system.

First of all, I required an ambulance to come to my residence on Thursday evening as I was unable to walk. A non-emergency call was made and within what seemed like only minutes, a medic emergency team from the fire hall arrived just before the ambulance showed up.

The care that I received in emergency was exceptional. As I was moved to a ward on Friday, the care continued in a courteous, professional and dedicated manner. As Saturday approached, I had my surgery and again the doctors and staff were excellent. I was in the hospital for three more days.

However, the downside of my stay was this: I was moved from a private room after one night as someone else coming out of OR needed my room. I was then moved to a semi-private room for one night and then moved again as my condition improved.

Here is the clincher — on my third night after surgery I was moved to what is sometimes referred to as the "Gordon Campbell Wing" — the hallway, where you get absolutely no rest.

There were at least three or four other people in the hallway as well as on the second floor.

Why are we paying medicare and where are our dollars going? Should you not have a room until you are ready to be discharged? I feel for the staff for sure who are so loyal to their patients under such circumstances. They are the last ones who want to move anyone to a hallway with maybe just a curtain for privacy. They are so short of beds that they have to keep people moving continually to free up space.

I would like to say: What is going on with our health care system?

The new facility for VJH cannot happen soon enough. The shortage of beds is critical and I feel should have been dealt with before now and not within two years while we wait for our new facility/expansion.

Vernon and area has grown so much but they have forgotten about our hospital and the desperate need for more space.

Until you are in this situation, you do not realize how critical the issue really is, it was an eye-opener for me.

I think we should all write a letter to our MLA and emphasize our concerns if you feel that this affects you or someone in your family.

Thanks again to the ambulance attendants, ER team, VJH surgical staff and to 2 West for the exceptional care and attention I received during my stay.

The hospital staff are doing so much in such a crowded situation.

I feel that it is amazing they can keep it together to give the professional and expert care that I received.

Erwin Ruf

Blue Divider Line

Digging into a healthy future
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: November 18, 2008

The biggest health care investment in the North Okanagan’s history has gone from the planning stages to reality.

On Monday, Premier Gordon Campbell and other dignitaries held the ceremonial ground breaking to launch construction of a $178 million patient care tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“It will make a big difference to the people of the North Okanagan and Vernon,” said Campbell.

It’s anticipated construction of the seven-storey, 181,500-square-foot facility will begin in February, and be completed in May 2011. It will be built on the current site of the Alexander wing.

“It represents a milestone in building patient care in the North Okanagan,” said MLA Tom Christensen.

“It enhances the strong care we already receive from the doctors and nurses.”

The tower will include a new intensive care unit, operating rooms, maternal/child department and two additional shelled-in floors for future patient care beds.

“This space has been designed to meet needs,” said Campbell of the growing population in the region.

“In the next 11 years, there will be a 25 per cent increase in the number of people using it (VJH).”

There will also be a new ambulance garage, an expanded outpatient program and central sterilization services.

The project comes at a time when the existing hospital — with some parts dating back to the 1940s — struggles with patient load and new medical technologies.

Wayne Steward, chief of medical staff, is pleased to see the two shelled-in floors set aside for future beds.

“Perhaps then we can lift the all too common purple haze that hangs over VJH,” he said of code purple capacity issues.

There is no firm funding or timeline for the two shelled-in floors to be completed.

About 40 per cent of the tower project costs will come from the North Okanagan-Columbia-Shuswap Regional Hospital District, and the tower is a public/private partnership between the Interior Health Authority and Infusion Health, a consortium.

Infusion Health will be responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance for 30 years at VJH.

Campbell stands behind the public/private partnership.

“The overall savings over the life of the project is $25 million. That’s $25 million that can go to patient care,” he said.

Maintenance at the hospital will transfer from IHA to Infusion Health, and existing employees have been concerned they may lose their jobs.

But Damian Joy, an Infusion Health director, says there have been discussions with the workers’ union.

“A number of those will continue to be employed,” he said.

Joy added that Infusion Health has considered the needs of the community while developing the design.

“We are committed to building a flexible and adaptable space.”

The Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation recently launched a $7 million fundraising campaign to acquire medical equipment for the tower.

“It’s an important and complementary part of ensuring the hospital can be everything it can be,” said Christensen of the campaign.

“The contributions of the community have been critical to help the hospital serve the community.”

----------------------------------

Comment by Cyberlots

It’s anticipated construction to be completed in May 2011 which is after the 2010 Olympics and after how many more code purples ... meaning purple bodies!

Blue Divider Line

Care quality offices set up
Vernon Morning Star - News - Published: October 24, 2008

B.C.’s health ministry has set up a website and toll-free phone line for people to report problems with care at provincial health care facilities.

Complaints will be directed to six newly established patient care quality offices, one for each regional health authorities.

Issues that can’t be resolved there will be referred to one of six review boards, whose appointees are independent of the health authorities.

B.C. Nurses’ Union president Debra McPherson supported the establishment of independent boards, but wondered if their findings will translate into more resources to solve problems related to over-stretched nursing staff.

“While the boards are getting the power to follow up on complaints made against the various health authorities, those health authorities have been forced to sacrifice many good ideas to improve care, because they must follow strict budgetary mandates set by Victoria,” McPherson said.

More information on the boards can be found on the website at www.patientcarequalityreviewboard.ca or by phone toll-free at 1-866-952-2448.

Blue Divider Line

Patients provided chance to complain
Vernon Morning Star - News - Published: October 24, 2008

The provincial government has announced a new system for registering patient complaints about their experiences in the public health care system.

Each of B.C.’s six health authorities, including Interior Health, has a new patient care quality review board and has set up a patient care quality office.

“We all want a quality health system—a system that provides us with appropriate, consistent and timely care; a system that is transparent and accountable; and a system that treats every patient with respect and dignity,” Health Minister George Abbott said in a statement.

Patients in the Okanagan, or their family members, who cannot resolve their complaints directly with their health care provider can contact IH’s patient care quality office, which is supposed to register and track all the complaints as they make their way through the health authority’s review process.

If a patient is still not satisfied, they will be able to contact the review board, whose five members have been appointed by the province. The boards can make recommendations to their respective health authorities and the minister of health, and are required to provide annual reports on the number and types of complaints received, timeliness of service, recommendations made, and other related information.

“In the event that there is a health-care concern that is of a nature that is complex, that cannot be handled at the local or health authority level, it will be sent on to the boards,” said Dr. Jack Chritchley, chairman of the Provincial Health Services board.

“The other aspect of it is, that the boards will be tabulating and collating all of the complaints regarding health care throughout the province. We’ll be looking at those and hopefully be able to identify system problems that the health ministry perhaps could do something about alleviating.”

However, Joyce Jones, co-chair of the B.C. Health Coalition, which advocates for the protection and expansion of a universal public health care system, said this new complaints process appears to simply add more bureaucratic hoops for patients and their families to jump through.

“How come the patients and the families have to move through so many levels in order to find anything before any solutions can be done? That’s making the families and the patients do all the work,” she said.

“It’s the government’s responsibility to provide quality care, so let’s find ways to do it, instead of finding more bureaucratic levels for people to get lost in.”

She added that money spent on the new offices and boards would be better used finding ways to deal with problems in the health care system

Blue Divider Line

IHA responds
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: October 21, 2008

This letter is to provide readers clarification regarding MRSA, in response to the Oct. 3rd article in The Morning Star entitled Superbug strain on rise at VJH.

While there were seven health-care associated MRSA-cases recorded at Vernon Jubilee Hospital in 2006/07 and 24 in 2007/08, this does not mean the “superbug is on the rise” at the hospital.

The numbers simply tell us how many patients arrived at Vernon Jubilee Hospital with MRSA; an increase does not mean the bacteria were spread from one patient to another while in the hospital.

By screening for MRSA in a target patient population group (those who have been hospitalized anywhere in the preceding three months), Vernon Jubilee Hospital is able to put precautions in place, such as isolation, to prevent the spread of this resistant bacteria.

And while these precautions are put in place recognizing the bacteria is resistant to more commonly-used antibiotics, MRSA infections are still treatable.

The public should be concerned about MRSA, and there is a vital role we all have to play in its prevention – the most basic of these, as the article indicated, is appropriate hand hygiene.

It’s a message that Interior Health delivers to staff as part of our ongoing education and commitment to quality patient care, and also extends to the general public who visit our hospitals and health centres every day.

Janice de Heer
Infection Prevention and Control
Interior Health

Blue Divider Line

Keep health care in mind this election
Kelowna Capital News - Opinion - Published: October 07, 2008

Forget the economy, what about alternative health?

There was a lot of hype during the last election campaign; the one we had in 2006, about how the health care system in Canada would suddenly improve.

Wait times for procedures were to be reduced and it would be a sunny day for everyone.

Of course, it never happened, it never will unless the burden is eased and the government starts funding alternative or complimentary medicine.

Alternative health care is often referred to as complementary and alternative health care.

The terms “alternative” and “complementary” refer to using a same therapy differently. That is, alternative refers to using a particular therapy instead of conventional treatment; and complementary is used along with conventional medicine.

I am not writing this column to tell you who to vote for, or who not to vote for, I am just recommending that you ask questions to all the party’s about where they stand on alternative health; namely will they offer a plan similar to the one that keeps big pharmaceutical companies in business.

Why not come up with a program that allows Canadians a choice, a program that has a preset limit or similar structure that allows the user to use it toward any alternative medicine of their choice.

Pharmaceutical drugs are covered under existing plans. The irony, however, is that these drugs will end up making most people sicker, in turn requiring them to need more.

The Fraser Institute published a report on the use of complementary/alternative medicine by Canadians and found that during the 1997 calendar year, Canadians spent approximately $1.8 billion out of pocket on visits to complementary and/or alternative health care providers and an additional $2 billion on herbs, vitamins, diet programs and books. Can you imagine what the dollar figure is now?

According to that same study done by the Fraser Institute, some types of alternative health care are more commonly used than others in Canada. In their study, The Fraser Institute identified the following practices as most commonly used: chiropractic (36 per cent), relaxation techniques (23 per cent), massage (23 per cent), prayer (21 per cent), herbal therapies (17 per cent), special diet (12 per cent), folk remedies (12 per cent), acupuncture (12 per cent), yoga (10 per cent), self-help group (8 per cent), lifestyle diet (8 per cent), and homeopathy (8 per cent).

The national parties should see that Canadians are taking their own health into their own hands and instead of trying to control Canadians; they should encourage us to use alternative health thereby, helping the economy.

We can be easily led down the garden path; I do not know if this path is lined with medicinal herbs, in any case, the Canadian economy is not the problem here.

The economy is just the result of how the money is allocated and in this case, maybe free up some of that conventional medical funding and invest in the areas that will really help people get well, that being, natural medicine.

The money they save can be invested into the environment.

On Oct. 14, vote for the party that has the bigger picture in mind, not just a four year guaranteed paycheque for the leader.

Check out the political party websites; ask the local candidates where their party stands on these issues, not just the issues they decided were important.

Have a good week and stay well.

John Sherman is a professional classical homeopath practicing in Kelowna. He operates the Okanagan Centre for Homeopathy, 764-2487.

homeopath"at"okanaganhomeopathy.ca

Blue Divider Line

Rural doctors focus of plan
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: September 19, 2008

Armstrong’s mayor believes a new initiative will not only attract, but help retain doctors in the community.

The Ministry of Health announced changes to the rural doctor coverage program Friday.

“This is really good news,” said Jerry Oglow, who has been pushing to keep physicians in Armstrong-Spallumcheen.

“This initiative will go a long way towards helping build the rural health model.”

Starting Oct. 1, the following changes will be made to the rural locum programs:

Physicians providing general practitioner locum services will be compensated at rates ranging from $750 - $900, depending on the degree of isolation of the host community.

n General practitioner locums will receive between $50 and $100 on top of the daily rate if they provide specific, core services needed by rural hospitals. These include: general surgery, anaesthesia, emergency medicine and obstetrics.

n Rural physicians will receive up to 43 days of potential general practitioner locum support, depending on the level of isolation of the community in which they practice.

n The rate paid to specialists providing locum services to 18 rural communities will increase to $1,200 per day.

n The potential number of days of locum relief for specialists in rural communities will increase to 35 days to recognize the time spent in professional development activities.

By making locums available, Oglow believes that will allow full-time physicians to have reasonable work schedules.

“They need time for themselves and anything we can do to assist them with that, will help,” he said.

But while he is pleased, Oglow admits that other issues must also be addressed if doctors are to remain in small communities, including providing training and professional development.

Besides Armstrong-Spallumcheen, the changes to the rural doctor coverage program will also benefit Enderby.

“This program will alleviate some of the burden carried by rural doctors, provide them well deserved relief and added care to residents,” said George Abbott, Shuswap MLA and health minister, in a release.

Blue Divider Line

Authority website targets doctors for Interior towns
Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 29, 2008

A new website has been launched to show physicians around the world why life is better living and working in the Interior.

“Neither B.C., nor any individual health authority, is alone in its challenge to recruit and retain the number of physicians required to meet the growing demand for medical care over the coming decades,” said Cathy Stashyn, leader of physician recruitment for the Interior Health Authority.

In the past, IHA has had a limited role in the recruitment of physicians. Because most physicians serving communities are private business people and do not work for IHA, recruitment was the responsibility of site-level physicians alone. However, given recruitment challenges in today’s market, IHA has developed a comprehensive approach to support communities in attracting physicians.

The www.betterhere.ca site is created specifically for physician recruitment.

Research shows that more than 50 per cent of physicians would use the web to begin searching for new practice opportunities.

The new website ensures that the health authority is able to maximize web-based marketing strategies in its efforts to address current physician supply challenges for communities throughout IHA.

The website emphasizes lifestyle benefits in the Interior, while also providing details of all permanent and locum practice opportunities available in communities.

“Research shows us the primary reason for physician relocation is lifestyle – not only a work-life balance, but also family involvement in community,” said Stashyn.

“This website reflects our recruitment strategy to not only promote the practice opportunities available within Interior Health, but also present opportunities for communities to play an active role in attracting new doctors.”

Blue Divider Line

IHA’s surgical services draw criticism
Vernon Morning Star News - Published: September 02, 2008

Interior Health has work to do to improve surgical service, according to a new report by B.C.’s auditor general, John Doyle.

“Overall we concluded that the Interior Health Authority does not have all the necessary systems in place to optimize the use of resources to provide efficient and effective surgical services,” the reports says.

“There is a lack of clear direction, integrated human resource planning and defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.”

However, the report also notes that IH has taken significant steps to better manage surgical services.

A surgical council was set up in 2004, with physician, nursing and administrative representatives on it, to standardize surgical services across IH.

Prior to the establishment of the province’s current five regional health authorities in 2001, the 11 surgical sites within IH’s region were independent of one another and their services were uncoordinated, said Andy Hamilton, an anesthesiologist and co-chairman of IH’s surgical council.

“We’ve come a long way now. We’ve built a lot of the foundations, we’ve got some standardized data collection systems, so we’re able to report what’s happening, identify issues and then deal with them,” he said.

“For the first time now we’re able to have accurate data about surgery.”

The council has been successful in implementing pre-surgical screening and a standardized operating room booking system, according to the report.

“All of these initiative are important means of improving surgical service delivery,” said Doyle in a statement.

IH has also done a good job of monitoring and reporting on the performance of its surgical services, said Doyle, but while performance reports are available to IH and the Ministry of Health, there is no public reporting.

The auditor general made 12 recommendations to improve IH’s surgical services. Key among them is the need to standardize equipment and surgical policies and practices across sites, the need for a clear role for the surgical council in managing surgical services and the need for public reporting of performance.

“We agree with the recommendations, we’re working in that direction,” said Hamilton.

“This is all about providing timely, safe, effective care for patients.”

IH’s surgical services was the only health authority to be audited by Doyle’s office. IH was selected because of its mix of rural and urban populations and because it offers a wide range of surgical services.

The audit was conducted in the fall of 2007. The analysis was done during the winter and the report was written during the spring and summer.

The full report can be found at the auditor general’s website, www.bcauditor.com.

Blue Divider Line

Maple Leaf meat from the Ontario plant where listeria has been found to be linked, has "EST97B" stamped on the package.

IHA on the lookout for listeria
Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 26, 2008

Sliced meats confirmed to have listeria contamination have been served in Interior Heath Authority facilities. And now one case of listeriosis has been reported in IHA.

Listeriosis, which is caused by eating the contaminated food, was identified in a Cranbrook woman Monday.

The woman, who has an underlying health condition, may have consumed the product while in hospital.

She contracted the disease prior to the Canada-wide recall of certain Maple Leaf products.

A second case of Listeria in a Cranbrook resident from May has shown not to be a match to the current outbreak Listeria strain.

Recalled product was produced in bulk and purchased and served by institutions across the country, including the majority of healthcare facilities across Interior Health.

But IHA is taking precautions to prevent further outbreaks.

“We have now pulled all recalled product from our facilities and are working with care providers and physicians to ensure they are aware of the potential for Listeriosis cases and can appropriately diagnose symptoms” said Dr. Rob Parker, medical health officer with IHA.

This is the only known case in the IHA yet, but two B.C. patients – one in Fort St. John and another in Prince George – were treated for the same strain of the bacterial infection identified in the nationwide recall of Maple Leaf Foods meat products.

Parker said the IHA notified all food-service directors last Wednesday and, since then, has been checking with hospitals and IHA-owned and -operated care facilities to make sure they are aware of the recall and have pulled all existing products.

“Our main thing is making sure we contact everybody. Which facility did or didn’t get the meat, I don’t know.”

IHA public-health inspectors are also contacting private senior-care facilities in the area to make sure they are aware of the recall, since this type of infection can greatly affect seniors.

And, with an incubation period of 21 to 90 days, Parker expects the health authority will see listeria cases in the next few weeks.

“It’s hard to know how many cases in B.C. or whether we’ll get IH residents affected because we really don’t know how much contaminated food is out there . . . or how much got consumed before the recall.

“So we’ll have to wait and see, unfortunately.”

On average, Parker said the IHA sees one or two cases of listeria a year.

The bacteria can be routinely found in certain products, like unpasteurized cheeses.

Food contaminated by listeriosis may not look or smell spoiled.

If eaten, the food-borne illness can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea.

However, if a person thinks they have eaten the recalled product, there are no preliminary tests to determine if they’ve been infected and there are no preventive or prophylactic medication.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are 17 cases of this listeria monocytogenes strain nationwide: 13 in Ontario, including the death of three people, one in Saskatchewan, one in Quebec and the two in B.C.

Another 16 probable cases of the same strain are being investigated in Ontario.

After discovering the bacteria that causes listeriosis in Sure Slice roast beef and corned beef produced at a Toronto plant last week, Maple Leaf has expanded the voluntary recall to include 23 deli meat products, including turkey, smoked meats and beef products.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also warning the public not to eat McDonald’s sliced turkey breast and a variety of Schneiders meats, including bavarian and cheddar smokies and smoked ham and turkey.

The complete list of nearly 200 products is available at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2008/list97be.shtml.

Tim Horton’s roast beef is also on the list, but Vernon franchise owner Dan Currie says the local stores haven’t been serving the beef since June.

Canadian health officials advise consumers to throw out all deli meats if they don’t know where they came from.

These products have been distributed nationally to retail stores and food service institutions such as restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutional cafeterias or kitchens.

These products may also be sold at deli counters.

Blue Divider Line

Province announces more VJH expansion plans
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 22, 2008

The blueprints are changing for Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s planned tower expansion.

B.C. Minister of Health Services George Abbott announced Thursday that the new patient care tower at VJH will expand further, from five storeys to seven, and modernize services for patients.

Kelowna General Hospital will also receive a major expansion, with construction contracts for both projects being awarded to Infusion Health, an international consortium that, according to its website, is “experienced at developing and delivering complex public-private partnerships in Canada and around the world.”

“A tremendous milestone was reached today, a milestone that shows our commitment to building patient care in the Okanagan,” said Abbott. “These hospital expansions are the largest single investment on record in the health system for the Interior. They are a critical part of our government’s plan to renew public health care and improve patient care in communities around the province.”

The new VJH tower, which is being built adjacent to the existing hospital, will include new operating rooms, a new emergency room, new intensive care unit, new maternity and pediatrics ward, an expanded and consolidated outpatient department, and two new shelled-in floors for inpatient beds.

A new ambulance garage will also be built, and new and more efficient central sterilization services will be added.

Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer for the Interior Health Authority, said priming is under way for when the two new shelled-in floors will be ready to house patients.

“The province and Interior health are looking at the future needs for acute care beds, so we’re looking at our existing population and the age of the population, that sort of thing,” said Konnert.

“Once we know where we will need more beds, and I’m quite sure the Okanagan will be one area that needs more beds, we can begin to plan for what kind of services would go in there, and have a conversation with government around the operating dollars.”

Vernon’s expansion plans jump from the original estimated 135,000 square feet to 181,500 square feet, or a 34 per cent increase. It would make the new patient care tower more than twice the size of the Wesbild Centre.

Okanagan-Vernon MLA Tom Christensen said the government has listened to the people of the Okanagan, health care professionals, community leaders and patients.

“Today, we are going above and beyond our original commitment and providing even more health care for our communities today and for decades to come,” said Christensen.

According to Abbott, this final contract includes a number of significant enhancements to the original project plans announced in May 2007, and brings the value of the construction project to $432.5 million.

Infusion will assume all construction (cost and schedule), design, long-term maintenance and operational risks, as well as other costs related to the project. They will also be responsible for “preserving the integrity of the structures over the next 30 years,” and will manage plant maintenance across both sites.

All clinical health services will be funded by the province and provided by Interior Health.

Expansion at Kelowna General Hospital will include a new consolidated outpatient department, new emergency department, new operating rooms, a rooftop heli-pad, two shelled-in floors for inpatients and a new renal dialysis department.

A clinical academic campus for UBC’s faculty of medicine will also be built.

A total of $15.5 will also be spent on new equipment for the hospitals.

The project’s completion date has now been adjusted to be finished in 2011, one year later than the originally projected 2010 completion date, given the amendments to the project. Konnert believes the time frame can, and will, be met.

“These folks have timetables and face financial penalties if they don’t meet those timetables,” she said.

Construction of the new facilities will take place concurrently with normal day-to-day operations at both Vernon and Kelowna.

Blue Divider Line

Hospital jobs in jeopardy: union
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 22, 2008

Plans to contract out Vernon Jubilee and Kelowna General hospital maintenance services to a private contractor could result in more than 50 workers losing their jobs.

B.C. Minister of Health Services, George Abbott, announced Thursday, that further expansion plans for new towers at Vernon Jubilee and Kelowna General hospitals will include the contracting out of services to Infusion Health, an international consortium awarded the construction contract on both projects.

Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Judy Darcy said, in a press release, the move will see more than 53 experienced trade and maintenance workers losing their jobs.

The impacted workers include electricians, plumbers, power engineers, electronic technicians and other maintenance workers who make sure hospital systems and equipment are well maintained and quickly repaired with little disruption to patients and other hospital staff.

Jeet Dukhia, the chief engineer at VJH, who has been employed at the hospital for nearly 30 years, said workers were shocked, disppointed and pretty well unhappy with the whole situation.

“Interior Health couldn’t give us a reason why they are doing this,” said Dukhia. “It has nothing to do with monies. We have, in the past, developed some systems that have saved Interior Health millions of dollars here and in Kelowna.”

Dukhia said being at VJH is “more than a job.”

“It’s our hospital, we think of it as our facility, like we own it personally,” said Dukhia. “We don’t understand. It’s not about money, it’s not about performance. They tell us we’re doing an excellent job, that they’re proud of us. Why are they doing this? We can’t get any answers.”

Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer for Interior Health, said the decision to contract out services was based on safety and efficiency.

“We had a couple of choices, one was the proponent could do the whole site or we could split it with Interior Health doing the old building and the proponent doing the new building,” said Konnert. “At the end of the day, there were probably two or three things that led us to go with the proponent. They’re going to want their own plant services people to maintain the new building. They’re responsible for 30 years for the building so they’ll make sure they maintain it the way they want it maintained.”

Konnert said having an old and new building also means integrating crucial systems, such as security, fire and nurse call.

“It made more sense, from a safety perspective, to have one person, one company, one group doing it,” she said. “I recognize that’s disappointing news for the plant services workers.”

Asked if Interior Health employees could bid on jobs with Infusion Health, Konnert said the new group “has a good transition plan.”

“I’m sure they’ll be talking with our staff, as will we, we’ll talk with them and the union to make this as smooth a transition as possible,” she said.

Dukhia said contracting out services will cost Interior Health three times as much, rather than using existing workers, and that those funds could have been diverted towards patient care. Konnert disputes those numbers.

“A number of facilities in other parts of the province have contracted out food services, housekeeping and those types of things, and I don’t believe it’s costing them three times as much,” she said. “I don’t have specific details from the new group on how they plan to provide the services, but we have standards they have to meet and we expect them to meet those standards.”

Blue Divider Line

Province announces more VJH expansion plans
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 22, 2008

The blueprints are changing for Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s planned tower expansion.

B.C. Minister of Health Services George Abbott announced Thursday that the new patient care tower at VJH will expand further, from five storeys to seven, and modernize services for patients.

Kelowna General Hospital will also receive a major expansion, with construction contracts for both projects being awarded to Infusion Health, an international consortium that, according to its website, is “experienced at developing and delivering complex public-private partnerships in Canada and around the world.”

“A tremendous milestone was reached today, a milestone that shows our commitment to building patient care in the Okanagan,” said Abbott. “These hospital expansions are the largest single investment on record in the health system for the Interior. They are a critical part of our government’s plan to renew public health care and improve patient care in communities around the province.”

The new VJH tower, which is being built adjacent to the existing hospital, will include new operating rooms, a new emergency room, new intensive care unit, new maternity and pediatrics ward, an expanded and consolidated outpatient department, and two new shelled-in floors for inpatient beds.

A new ambulance garage will also be built, and new and more efficient central sterilization services will be added.

Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer for the Interior Health Authority, said priming is under way for when the two new shelled-in floors will be ready to house patients.

“The province and Interior health are looking at the future needs for acute care beds, so we’re looking at our existing population and the age of the population, that sort of thing,” said Konnert.

“Once we know where we will need more beds, and I’m quite sure the Okanagan will be one area that needs more beds, we can begin to plan for what kind of services would go in there, and have a conversation with government around the operating dollars.”

Vernon’s expansion plans jump from the original estimated 135,000 square feet to 181,500 square feet, or a 34 per cent increase. It would make the new patient care tower more than twice the size of the Wesbild Centre.

Okanagan-Vernon MLA Tom Christensen said the government has listened to the people of the Okanagan, health care professionals, community leaders and patients.

“Today, we are going above and beyond our original commitment and providing even more health care for our communities today and for decades to come,” said Christensen.

According to Abbott, this final contract includes a number of significant enhancements to the original project plans announced in May 2007, and brings the value of the construction project to $432.5 million.

Infusion will assume all construction (cost and schedule), design, long-term maintenance and operational risks, as well as other costs related to the project. They will also be responsible for “preserving the integrity of the structures over the next 30 years,” and will manage plant maintenance across both sites.

All clinical health services will be funded by the province and provided by Interior Health.

Expansion at Kelowna General Hospital will include a new consolidated outpatient department, new emergency department, new operating rooms, a rooftop heli-pad, two shelled-in floors for inpatients and a new renal dialysis department.

A clinical academic campus for UBC’s faculty of medicine will also be built.

A total of $15.5 will also be spent on new equipment for the hospitals.

The project’s completion date has now been adjusted to be finished in 2011, one year later than the originally projected 2010 completion date, given the amendments to the project. Konnert believes the time frame can, and will, be met.

“These folks have timetables and face financial penalties if they don’t meet those timetables,” she said.

Construction of the new facilities will take place concurrently with normal day-to-day operations at both Vernon and Kelowna.

Blue Divider Line

Taxpayers seek MLA action
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 21, 2008

The North Okanagan’s MLAs insist they aren’t ignoring public concerns about Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The Vernon Taxpayers Association claims Health Minister George Abbott hasn’t acted on an 18,000-name petition about health care, and Okanagan Vernon MLA Tom Christensen hasn’t provided information on the private sector’s role in a new diagnostic and treatment tower.

“There is plenty of action going on,” said George Abbott, who is Shuswap MLA.

“We are working very hard to finalize the contract terms for the medical services tower. We hope to be in a position within a few days to make an announcement.”

Tony Stamboulieh, association spokesman, questions why Abbott hasn’t acknowledged the petition, which demanded more acute care beds, operating rooms, nurses and an MRI machine.

“The minister has not spoken to us once,” said Stamboulieh.

“We have to inform people that their signatures count for nothing as far these politicians are concerned.”

The association sought information from Christensen July 6 on Infusion Health, a private consortium that may be involved in the planning, constructing, financing and operating the tower.

“There’s no information and they (government) carry on like it’s a good idea,” said Stamboulieh.

“No one seems to get any information that we are entitled to know.”

Christensen insists the association’s questions may be premature.

“The Interior Health Authority continues to work towards finalizing the project and it went through the tender process. I don’t want to say anything that may jeopardize negotiations,” he said.

Christensen believes the public wants a major expansion of VJH.

“That’s what I’ve been working towards with George Abbott and IHA.”

In terms of new acute care beds, Abbott says there will be additional capacity through two shelled-in floors in the tower, and the ministry is looking at the issue of nurses.

“Nurses are a precious commodity and we are working hard to add nursing spaces in B.C.,” he said of the post-secondary education system.

Stamboulieh vows that the association will continue to push for improvements at VJH, and he is putting together a fact file.

“The association invites all citizens who have been victimized by these shortages and who have had to sleep in corridors or worse to share their story with the association,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Public gives opinion on health care
Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 19, 2008

A health policy researcher at UBC Okanagan says the provincial government’s recent “conversation on health” was an attempt by the government to get the public onside with its agenda of expanding the role of private health care.

British Columbians however, refused to go along.

In the latest issue of the journal, Healthcare Policy, associate professor in health studies at UBCO, Alan Davidson says that from the outset, the government saw the problem as “excessive and rising public expenditure on healthcare.”

What’s more, it had already decided what the best solution was, “privately financed care supplementing or replacing publicly funded services.”

Davidson says in his article Sweet Nothings? The BC Conversation on Health, that the government’s goal was to co-opt a public which has repeatedly resisted the erosion of a single-tier public health care system.

“Essentially, co-optation boils down to using the Conversation as a cloaking and legitimating device for predetermined outcomes,” he writes.

The government provided the facilitators of the 16 regional forums held across the province with conversation starters that Davidson calls “deliberatively one-sided and provocative.”

He highlights one that said, “Did you know in Sweden and France, patient cost-sharing and co-payments are required for many services?”

Another coupled projections of growth in the number of seniors with the statement, “studies show that people in their 90s use approximately $22,000 in health services each year – 10 times what people use on average in their 50s.”

Davidson notes however, that forum facilitators did not always use the starters and he credits the government for creating a forum format which, “left participants free to suggest areas of discussion and to choose their own focus groups and topics.”

The outcome of the conversation was “strong support for existing public programs,” writes Davidson, “along with recommendations for their expansion into more effective home care and drug programs.”

The government, to Davidson’s surprise, did not attempt to suppress these findings. “The government made good on reporting honestly the feedback it received through the Conversation,” he writes.

A spokesperson for Health Minister George Abbott said Abbott was on vacation and not available for comment about Davidson’s article. However, the spokesperson was able to provide a statement written by Abbott, but it did not address Davidson’s claim that the point of the conversation on health was to co-opt the public.

“Our government’s Conversation on Health was an unprecedented public consultation that saw more than 6,400 people participate in regional forums, 12,000 submissions, 78 forums and millions of hits on the Conversation on Health website,” it said.

“The government was clear from the beginning that the Conversation on Health was about engaging as many British Columbians as possible in a discussion about health care.”

The statement went on to say the conversation informed the government’s legislative agenda which includes increasing the scope of practice for health professionals such as nurses and pharmacists, streamlining the process of getting credentials for doctors from other parts of Canada as well as from outside the country; introducing E-Health initiatives; and establishing Patient Care Quality Review Boards.

Blue Divider Line

Health care is at risk
Vernon Morning Star Letters - Published: August 14, 2008

A few weeks ago, the Vernon Tax Payers Association presented a petition containing 18,000 names to our elected officials asking for adequate funding for Vernon Jubilee Hospital. As I listened to Tony Stamboulieh read the petition I asked myself how it could be that Canada, a rich country, currently ranks among the lowest of 30 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in the ratio of doctors and acute care beds per thousand people? It is not the lack of funding for billions of dollars are injected in the system every year.

I believe there are three major reasons. The first is increasing illness due to environmental toxins. Almost half of Canadians contract cancer. Over 20 per cent of children have asthma. There is an epidemic of obesity in adults and children. And before you rush to add that this is due to living longer, let me point out that this is not true. Children are contracting cancers and children are born with increasing problems. We are the first generation whose life expectancy is longer than that of our children. Hundreds of chemicals used in our everyday life carry risks of increased cancer, infertility, learning disabilities and other intellectual impairment, and damage to the immune system. There are less toxic substitutes for these products, but industry lobbies to maintain their registration and legal use drowns out the voices of concerned health professionals and families concerned about health.

The second problem is that doctors treat symptoms rather than the cause of illness and often do so in a way that worsens the problems. Over-prescription of drugs is causing far more deaths than street drugs and is responsible for millions of hospitalization per year. Skyrocketing PharmaCare costs have now eclipsed all other health care expenditures.

The third problem is the lack of adapted programs and systems. There are not enough home support and home care programs and assisted-living services for people with chronic care needs, including many seniors who wish to stay in their own homes and communities. We need to create centralized wait lists, move from a paper system to electronic technology to share information, address the staffing shortage and in some cases, the facility and equipment shortages. The longer people wait for treatment, the sicker they become and the longer they suffer.

This situation is far more dangerous than we may think. The threat of a NAFTA challenge from the American for-profit health care industry cannot be over-estimated. Allowing for-profit health care would be the “thin end of the wedge” that jeopardizes our entire health system. Based on the rules for “national treatment,” if Canada allows increasing numbers of for-profit facilities, we run the risk of losing our entire universal single payer system in a NAFTA challenge. We cannot take that risk. Fixing our health care system means protecting the core elements of universal single-payer health care. I am thankful to the Vernon Taxpayers' Association for highlighting this issue for it might motivate us to treat the causes rather than the symptoms, and in doing so, protect our national health care system.

Huguette Allen,
Green Party MP Candidate

Blue Divider Line

Poor Response
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: August 08, 2008

I'm sure we are all tired of hearing about the situation at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, but after hearing Mr. Abbott's reply to the opposition party NDP, who told of the frequent overcrowding at the hospital, I have to say something.

Mr. Abbott spoke of millions that are to be spent at the VJH. Very well and good, but what about the meantime? I think the proposed opening of the new tower is 2010. Add a couple of years to that for delays of one kind or another. Where the tower is to be built isn't even torn down, which is to happen this summer.

Interior Health speaks of the new campus of care beds that are coming on stream. The new Creekside facility I understand will have about 20 unassigned beds after the patients at the Alexander wing were moved. Other assisted living complexes in the area are full and have waiting lists.

Also, some of their guests require more care than they are receiving.

Recently at a thank-you social, I had the opportunity to speak to the head of the Interior Health about this problem. Having been in administration at the hospital some years ago, I said, "Why can't the former patient care beds that are closed and used for storage or leased as office be re-instated for patient care." I understand his reply to be something like, "They would be more comfortable than being in the hall." Why not as a temporary measure spend some money to make them usable, instead of expecting the doctors and nurses to get ground down, working in overcrowded unsafe conditions. I use to do surveying of hospitals for the granting of accreditation for the Canadian Hospital Association. Currently, I would have difficulty recommending accreditation at the VJH.

Kay Nash

Blue Divider Line

Meeting sought on hospital project
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 08, 2008

MLA Tom Christensen is being pressured to launch a public discussion over the expansion of Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Jeet Dukhia and Vic Schrauwen, both engineers at VJH, are concerned about the new diagnostic and treatment tower being constructed through a private/public partnership.

“He (Christensen) should have a forum to tell the public the government is building the hospital with P3 money and not the government’s money,” said Dukhia.

“He’s our representative and he should address the concerns of the public.”

Dukhia says it costs more for private companies to borrow money than government, so that drives expenditures up.

He is also concerned that lease payments from the government will divert money away from health care.

“They should ask the public whether we want it done by P3 or public,” he said, adding that B.C. has a budget surplus and that could help finance new health care facilities.

Dukhia and Schrauwen are also concerned that the public will have little say in how the tower is run, and that services will be cut to meet the needs of shareholders.

The Interior Health Authority is currently in discussions with Infusion Health, an international consortium, to design, construct, finance and operate the tower.

It could also include maintenance of the existing hospital.

But Schrauwen is convinced this will lead to privatization of health care.

“Once they have control of the hospital for 30 years, they will get into other things,” he said.

Christensen is unwilling to have a public meeting on P3s.

“I’ve met with them and they have expressed their concerns,” he said of Dukhia and Schrauwen.

Christensen insists that public/private partnerships are an efficient way of providing facilities and they are common in B.C.

“What I am interested in is ensuring a top quality project in a way that’s cost-effective for taxpayers,” he said.

Christensen denies services are at risk through private/public partnerships.

“It’s unfortunate that people who don’t like P3s point to some concept of inferiority. But when services are audited, they do as well as those done in-house. P3s have saved millions of dollars,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Privatization a concern
Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 07, 2008

Your article in the July 11 edition entitled: "VJH process raises concern," and specifically the comments of MLA Tom Christensen and Spalumcheen director Lorna Bissell, demands a response.

In respect to Ms. Bissell's comment to the effect that without P3s a new hospital wouldn't have been built in her former town, perhaps she can explain why government couldn't finance the hospital and yet a private contractor can — albeit at a higher rate of interest and thus cost passed on to the taxpaying public?

In respect to MLA Christensen's remarks to the effect that "The experience with P3s in the province has resulted in significant savings of taxpayer dollars," I would point out that in the absence of factual information his remarks remain simply assertions.

And, as most people know, asserting something as true does in no way make it true.

The fact of the matter is that the taxpaying public has no way of really knowing whether or not they are receiving value for money given that not only the negotiations for P3s are done in secret but that when completed, the agreements are protected by proprietary privilege accorded to the contractor as a private entity and thus not available for public scrutiny.

Witness what happened with the new P3 hospital in Abbotsford.

What the politicians are saying, in effect, is "trust us; you have our word that you are getting value for money."

In other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom and Australia the use of P3s by government has resulted in substantial cost overruns as well reductions in both the quality and extent of services provided, with the end result that governments in those jurisdictions had to step back in to the picture and rescue those facilities and services they provided.

At additional costs to the taxpaying public, it must be noted.

The bottom line, born out by numerous peer reviewed studies, is that publicly funded and administered, universal health care services and facilities are both cheaper to construct and operate and provide better results; that is have better outcomes in that less people get sick and die than do those privately funded and operated.

Perhaps that is what the vast majority of British Columbians were saying in the provincially sponsored Conversations on Health Care, where they stated clearly their preference for such a system of health care.

Mr. Christensen's comments demonstrate clearly that he and his government colleagues continue to ignore the wishes of the majority of British Columbians and instead cater to a minority of well-placed advocates of privatized health care.

And, contrary to Mr. Christensen's assertions, P3s are another step in the ongoing, incremental privatization of our otherwise public health care system.

Bob Hagman

Blue Divider Line

Ministry seeks increased funds
Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 05, 2008

The Ministry of Health services is anticipating a major cash infusion.

The provincial government will seek legislative approval for an extra $120 million for the public health care system this year.

“In balanced budget 2008, government dedicated 68 per cent of every incremental dollar of new spending to the public health system for the next three years to support increased services to British Columbians across the province,” said George Abbott, Shuswap MLA and health minister.

“As a result of stronger than expected revenues from the oil and gas sector, government has sought $120 million for health authorities to meet increased demands and pressures across the system, including for surgeries and diagnostic procedures.”

The additional $120 million is more than a 25 per cent increase above the additional $465.7 million provided to health authorities in February this year. Total provincial health spending including the Ministry of Health Services, health authorities and health services delivered by other ministries will now rise to a record $14.95 billion this year, up from $9.3 billion in 2001. Health spending is expected to reach $16.5 billion in 2010/11.

A portion of one-time funding will ensure the province continues to build upon record levels of surgeries and diagnostic procedures. This year, the province expects that an estimated 12,102 hip and knee replacement surgeries will be completed. That will represent a 152 per cent increase in knee replacement and 68 per cent increase in hip replacement surgeries over 2001. Median wait times for hip replacement surgery have decreased by 42 per cent and knee joint replacement surgery by 33 per cent since 2001. The province also expects to add to its record level of diagnostic procedures, which includes 75 per cent more CT exams and 145 per cent more MRI exams, between 2001/02 and 2007/08.

“With a growing and aging population, increased use of new and expensive technologies and pharmaceuticals, we are seeing incredible demands placed on our public health care system,” said Abbott.

Blue Divider Line

IHA opts out of B.C. audits
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 01, 2008

While the rest of province’s health authorities have received a final grade on housekeeping, the Interior Health Authority has excluded itself from the report card.

Results from the most recent independent provincial housekeeping audit show British Columbia hospitals and health authority-run long-term care facilities meet the prescribed benchmark for cleanliness. For the second year in a row, all participating health authorities scored above the benchmark rate of 85 per cent in the audits carried out by Westech Systems, Inc.

But the one authority missing from the mix is IHA.

IHA performs its own housekeeping audits, and has done so since excluding itself in 2007.

“The internal audits give me much more information than the external audits,” said Alan Davies, head of the Okanagan food services and housekeeping.

Doing its own audits also allows IHA the ability for more frequent attention. Unlike the annual provincial audits, IHA’s are done quarterly and on a complaint basis.

“There’s some places we audit every week,” said Davies.

While IHA auditors are internal, Davies says there isn’t room for personal opinions or bias in the audits.

“There’s no grey area, you either pass or fail,” he said, adding the auditors are actually trained by Westech Systems.

For example, if dust is found on a window sill, it’s an automatic fail in that category. Because of in-house laundry services, Davies says high dust accumulation is one area IHA struggles with.

“Dust seems to be one our biggest challenges.”

Another reasoning for doing independent audits is IHA was finding the results were quite similar across the board and similar to its internal audits.

But doing its own audits allows IHA to link results to particular areas with more ease.

IHA’s most recent audit, for the quarter ending March 2008, shows all facilities are meeting the grade and surpassing the 85 per cent benchmark.

In the North Okanagan, Gateby received its highest score yet at 92.89, Noric House scored 93.95, Enderby’s Parkview Place scored 92.56, Pleasant Valley Health Centre in Armstrong scored 90.15 and Vernon Jubilee Hospital just passed the mark this time at 86.89. The average score for the entire IHA was 89.49.

That number is higher than almost all of the other authorities provincial scores: Fraser Health – 87.44, North Health – 87.2, Provincial Health Services Authority – 89.41, Vancouver Coastal Health – 87.47 and Vancouver Island Health Authority – 87.24.

When IHA participated in the provincial audits previously it scored just over 90 per cent for both 2005 and 2006.

While IHA didn’t participate in this year’s provincial third-party audit, it will have a grade beside its name next year.

B.C.’s quality and cleanliness standards apply to all hospitals and health authority-managed facilities.

“We are pleased that all health authorities met this high benchmark for housekeeping services,” said Minister of Health Services George Abbott. “Housekeeping provides an important function in our health facilities, helping prevent the spread of infection as well as ensuring the safety and comfort of patients and staff. These audits are another example of our accountability and transparency to residents of British Columbia.”

The provincial audits were done between August 2007 and March 2008 in five health authorities, as Westech moves towards a continual auditing of facilities throughout the year.

All audits are done by a third party, are independent, and are unannounced. Westech audits approximately 10 per cent of rooms in a facility, placing a higher priority on higher risk areas such as operating rooms and emergency departments. These audits are in addition to internal audits done by health authorities, based on the same provincial criteria set out by the Westech audits.

“It is important to recognize that if an individual facility scores below 85 per cent, it does not mean it is unsafe,” said Dean Waisman of Westech. “It does mean there is room to improve, and gives facilities an idea of where improvements need to be made.”

All facilities that scored below the benchmark level were subsequently re-audited by Westech, and all showed significant improvements, with most reaching the benchmark level.

Prior to the establishment of health authorities, external housekeeping audits were not done in B.C. hospitals. The first housekeeping audits done in Vancouver Coastal Health in 2003, prior to contracting out of housekeeping services, showed an average result of 75 per cent.

“These reports show that it is more challenging to maintain our high standards of cleanliness in older facilities and busier facilities,” said Abbott. “That is why we are investing $2.7 billion into new hospitals and facilities over the next three years to replace or remediate outdated facilities and to expand space in other facilities for better patient care.”

Blue Divider Line

Healthcare debate needs context
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published July 22, 2008

Your article titled 'Is there a doctor in the house' is well argued and thus makes a valuable contribution to informing public debate and discussion. However, like any discussion on health care services, some sort of context vis-a-vis how Canada compares with other countries is also critical to informed debate. And, in the context of physicians per 100,000 people, for the years 1990 to 2004, Canada stood well down the list of all countries in 54th place, with only 214 doctors per 100,000. Well below Cuba with 591, the U.S.A. with 549, Belgium 449, Estonia 448, Greece 438, Russia 425, Italy 420 - the list goes on.

Contrast this with the ratio of physicians to population in the 1970's where Canada had the second highest ratio among developed countries.

As you point out in your article, this abrupt change took place in the early 1990's following the Bare-Stoddart Report, which stated that there was a surplus of physicians in Canada and recommended a 10 per cent reduction in the number of medical students. What followed has been accurately described as one of the most serious public policy failings by both the federal and provincial governments of the day as they took steps to reduce the number of seats and necessary funding available in medical schools across Canada. Compounding this reduction was the federal government cutbacks in transfers of funds to the provinces in the order of 10's of billions of dollars in the early 1990's.

It is my view that there is simply no excuse that Canada's physician to population ratio should lag far behind not only countries that are equally wealthy but shockingly, those countries that are classed as 'developing' or Third World.

It is arguable - convincingly, I believe - that in no small measure this situation can be attributed to the success of the relentless attack by the self-styled experts, corporate funded think tanks and media 'chattering class' that our Canadian health care system costs too much; is out of control; and the only solution(s) are to be found in and through a larger measure of private, for profit health care. All of this despite Canada having already a larger proportion of private delivery of health care services than other less costly systems such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc., where those countries also enjoy higher physician to people ratios than Canada.

And, this 'battle' of 'private delivery' versus 'public delivery' continues today. But, it is important to note, the debate is only in the minds and actions of the advocates of private delivery. It is instructive to note that the vast majority of Canadians, as evidenced over decades of public opinion polls, have resoundingly stated their continuing strong preference for a public health care system that is universal in scope, and is publicly funded and administered. All of this despite relentless propaganda by the private health care advocates.

This strong public opinion reflects an issue that resonates deeply with most Canadians.

The real question to be asked is why, in view of this strong preference by Canadians, our politicians seem determined to ever increase the amount of privatization of our public health care system?

After all, it can't be the economics of the matter given the numerable peer reviewed studies showing conclusively that a public system of health care is not only cheaper than private but has - some would say most importantly - better outcomes; that is, fewer people get sick or die.

What could be simpler?

Perhaps our political decision-makers should try to escape their ideological blinkers and myths in respect to holding that the 'market should be the final arbiter of all things' and start listening to what the general public has been saying for so long and, more importantly, actually doing what the public has been saying unequivocally for decades.

Let the debate begin.

Bob Hagman

Blue Divider Line

Scanner to cut hospital wait times
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - published July 17, 2008

George Abbott hopes his math skills sum up the new addition to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The provincial Minister of Health Services was at VJH Thursday morning to officially unveil the hospital’s new 64-slice CT Scanner, which replaces an old four-slice model.

“I hope this is 16 times better than the old one, if my math is correct,” laughed Abbott, who was joined by other dignitaries and hospital staff for the unveiling of the $2 million state-of-the-art piece of technology that provides faster, more detailed scans that will allow doctors to accurately detect life-threatening illnesses at early stages and determine effective treatment options.

“With early diagnosis, many patients are able to receive less invasive treatments with better outcomes possible than with later diagnosis.”

The new scanner, 60 per cent of which was paid for by the Ministry of Health Services through Interior Health, and 40 per cent by the North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap Regional Hospital District, will allow radiologists and technologists to scan cancer, pediatric, elderly, trauma and respiratory-compromised patients more efficiently and quickly.

It’s a machine that has 64 individual sets of x-ray emitters and detectors that work at the same time.

“With increasing demand for CT services, the new scanner will help keep wait times down,” said Abbott.

VJH performs 30 to 40 CT scans per day.

The new piece of equipment allows for more complex scans, meaning patients requiring more detailed scans, such as for neurological tumours, will not have to travel to Kelowna General Hospital for enhanced scanning.

“The new scanner allows us to increase our diagnostic capabilities, and allows us to go to areas we couldn’t go before,” said Dr. Glenn Scheske, medical director of imaging for VJH.

It’s also been a recruiting tool for the hospital as well, as Interior Health has hired three radiologists and a CT technologist for the imaging department.

“We’re very proud of this installation, it’s world-class,” said Zeno Cescon, Interior Health’s program administrator for diagnostic imaging. “These new additions ensure that we now have the human resources at VJH to sustain the CT department, as well as enhance the CT department to provide the necessary service for the emergency room, surgery and the intensive care unit.”

Okanagan-Vernon MLA Tom Christensen, who was the first to have a CT scan in 2008 on the old four-slice machine, thanks to an emergency room stay at New Year’s, said the new equipment is a critical part of the ongoing investment being made in the provincial health care system to ensure there is health care in the community.

“The number of CT scans in B.C. has increased dramatically,” said Christensen, who, along with his three kids, was born at VJH. “We’re doing the best job possible.”

The scanner will help radiologists and technicians to better perform CT angiograms, visualize small abnormalities in the chest and perform guided biopsies in all part of the body in the diagnosis of suspicious-looking growths that can potentially be the early stages of cancer.

Two VJH technologists were sent to Japan for advanced training on the Toshiba-made scanner.

Since 2001-02, B.C. has acquired 17 new CT scanners for hospitals.

Abbott said Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm will also be receiving a new 64-slice model.

Blue Divider Line

Changes needed
Vernon Morning Star - published July 15, 2008

 I read with great interest the letter by the group of doctors and then the letter from the economics professor. Dr. Craig Mitton PhD from Okanagan University. The professor’s letter put the picture into a proper perspective.

I don’t blame the doctors for wanting a better facility that provides for the future as well as the present.

My wife worked for years in Vernon Jubilee and put in many hours of unpaid overtime because of the shortage of available resources.

I know that doctors do the same. There is a need not only to make informed decisions about the allocation of the limited funding available but more to the point to revamp our health care delivery system.

The following quote from an article in the Fraser Institute’s recent publication “A Sad State of Affairs” written by Nadeem Esmail has this to say:

"Canada’s health care program is one of the most expensive in the developed world but it delivers relatively poor access to physicians, technology, and care.

"However, the rhetoric extolling the greatness of Canada’s Medicare program and Canada’s approach to health care policy continues to stifle discussion and debate.

"The reality is that Canada’s approach to Medicare is the problem; changing the policies that many politicians and pundits defend would markedly improve the performance of Canada’s health care system."

It is time for all of us to review the way we think about our health care system and demand that our government revise the way it delivers it so that we are in tune with the modern reality.

R.J. Reid

Blue Divider Line

IHA clarifies wait times for cancer surgery
July 10, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

KELOWNA - The wait time for breast cancer surgery at Kelowna General Hospital is two to four weeks, according to Interior Health Authority officials.

The figure represents the time it takes between the confirmation of cancer to surgery, said IHA spokeswoman Karen Cairns.

“Either a needle biopsy or a surgical biopsy or whatever is done to confirm cancer cells to actually being in the operating room for surgery.”

The figures differ slightly in a study the Cancer Centre for the Southern Interior did in 2006, involving 346 patients, she added.

That study showed the median time from confirmation of cancer to surgery was just shy of five weeks.

The same study also showed the median time from the discovery of a lump to a diagnostic mammography was six days.

And, the median time from first indication of a lump to surgery is 78 days, said Cairns.

“First indication is the screening mammogram that shows a lump that needs to be further examined, patient discovers a lump or a doctor discovers a lump.”

By comparison, Peachland resident Patricia Guest said she waited two weeks for her mammography.

She said she will have waited 17 days between the confirmation of her cancer and her scheduled surgery on July 9.

From the first indication of a lump to surgery, Guest will have waited 64 days.

Guest’s wait times line up with what is typical at KGH and the local cancer centre.

However, she said the waits are too long and she wants times for all breast cancer-related procedures to be reduced by half.

Blue Divider Line

VJH process raises concern
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - July 10, 2008

Vernon Jubilee Hospital maintenance workers are raising alarm bells about what they see as privatization.

Jeet Dukhia and Vic Schrauwen, both engineers, told the North Okanagan Regional District board Wednesday that a public-private partnership for the new diagnostic and treatment tower will lead to higher costs and poor service.

“P3s are very dangerous,” said Dukhia, a longtime employee at VJH.

Following provincial guidelines, the Interior Health Authority is in discussions with Infusion Health to design, construct, finance and operate the tower.

Infusion Health is a consortium made up of Bilfinger Berger, John Laing Infrastructure, Black and McDonald, Graham Construction and Stantec.

Dukhia claims that P3s have been a “disaster” in other places where it’s been tried, and the need for corporations to satisfy shareholders leads to reduced maintenance levels.

“Samuel Polson donated that land (for VJH). That land is not for-profit,” he said, adding that an agreement would have a private firm operating the tower for 30 years.

“We are mortgaging ourselves for the next 30 years.”

Schrauwen says it costs more for private businesses to borrow funds than government so that will impact the price tag of the tower.

“The financing of this new facility is beyond comprehension,” he said.

“It’s high time that we started asking questions. What is this going to cost if we do this through public? What is this going to cost if we do this through private?”

Jerry Oglow, NORD chairman, recently went on a tour of VJH with Dukhia and Schrauwen.

“It’s interesting to see it from their perspective, from their environment,” he said.

But Spallumcheen director Lorna Bissell isn’t convinced P3s are negative.

Bissell said a public-private partnership led to a new hospital being constructed in her former hometown of Brampton, Ont.

“It wouldn’t be there today if it wasn’t P3,” she said of the financing needed.

Tom Christensen, Okanagan Vernon MLA, refutes the claims from Dukhia and Schrauwen.

“The experience with P3s in the province has resulted in significant savings of taxpayers’ dollars in construction and operating,” he said, adding that allows more money to be directed towards health care.

“The government’s interest is to ensure we get quality facilities at good value.”

Christensen denies that P3s are privatization of health care.

“At the end of the day, the public owns the facility and the health care and maintenance services are paid for by the public,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Blowing smoke
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - July 08, 2008

It was interesting to learn last week that the Interior Health Authority is looking at standardizing how all hospitals handle overcapacity conditions.

While all facilities are jampacked, apparently simple wording makes it challenging to compare them. Vernon Jubilee Hospital classifies over-capacity as code purple, while just down the highway, Kelowna General Hospital describes it as something else.

One has to hope that standardization ensures that overcrowded conditions are treated the same no matter which hospital you find yourself in.

But the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is just an attempt by IHA to avoid the issue of why patients are constantly finding themselves in hallways or places other than proper rooms.

Is the thinking that if the public no longer hears the term code purple, they will think there is no longer a problem?

The reality, though, is that despite the colour or bureaucratic lingo being used, there aren't sufficient acute care beds, operating time or nursing staff to address the needs of a growing region.

And while the $81 million diagnostic and treatment tower is a good start, there is no guaranteed funding yet for additional beds. Until that happens, code purple alerts will continue.

Let's hope that the thrust behind standardization is ultimately to improve the health care system at VJH, and not just an IHA smoke screen to try and confuse the public.

Cunningham doesn't run and hide

Generally politicians try to avoid controversial issues, but not Juliette Cunningham.

The Vernon councillor has gained a reputation for speaking out on difficult subjects, even when she knows it may not be popular with some constituents or others at the council table.

Case in point was last Friday when the Vernon Native Housing Society held a ground-breaking ceremony for a 40-unit affordable housing complex on 19th Avenue. The speeches were filled with excitement and optimism, that is until Cunningham brought a dose of reality to the podium and raised the concerns of adjacent residents about the project.

"It wasn't an issue of not-in-my-backyard but legitimate concerns about the loss of green space and the crime that already exists," she said.

Cunningham credited the society for making some changes to the plans, but indicated that work must continue if the neighbours are to be satisfied.

"All of us are committed to ensuring these concerns are addressed," she said.

It would have been easy for Cunningham to ignore the issue altogether, to forget that residents are worried about losing part of a park, or that the drug trade is prevalent in the area adjacent to the sewer treatment plant.

But that would have been doing a disservice not only to the neighbours, but also to the Vernon Native Housing Society.

The non-profit organization has shown substantial leadership when it comes to pursing affordable housing and allowing families to blossom.

But while the society's track record of operating housing complexes is extremely positive, there is always room for improvement and there is a need for both it, the city, and the RCMP to set the bar even higher when it comes to the 19th Avenue neighbourhood.

It is not good enough to say that the ground has been broken, and the project is moving ahead as is.

And I suspect that Cunningham's blunt honesty will continue if she believes the neighbourhood's concerns are being forgotten.

Blue Divider Line

Dispute erupts over health care
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - July 04, 2008

The war of words continues over Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The Vernon Taxpayers Association is upset with a letter Okanagan Vernon MLA Tom Christensen sent out June 6 about previous correspondence from the group.

“It was off-handed and rude,” said Tony Stamboulieh, association spokesman, of the letter from Christensen.

“He tells us we are wrong and that’s not so. All of our facts are based on government figures.”

In his letter, Christensen states, “The statements regarding current funding and services that you have expressed in your letter are in most cases inaccurate.

“I must correct your statement that only 125 acute care beds are currently funded as the number of beds currently funded at VJH is 138.”

Christensen also indicates that pressure will be taken off VJH through the opening of six more palliative care beds at Hospice House, as well as 106 new seniors care beds.

“Nevertheless, I will be closely monitoring these developments and having ongoing discussions with both the Interior Health Authority and the Ministry of Health,” he wrote.

On Friday, the association issued a press release challenging Christensen’s comments.

“One-hundred-and-thirty-eight acute care beds refers to the 125 funded beds plus 13 temporarily funded beds on 2E. Are you suggesting that these temporary beds are now permanently funded?” states the release.

“You say that your government is providing 106 new residential beds. However, with the closure of the Alexander wing, we are losing 49 residential beds according to the admitting department, so that should be taken into account when there is talk about opening other residential beds. Also, one residential bed does not equal one acute care bed. You are equating a residential bed with an acute care bed.”

Christensen told The Morning Star Friday that he is willing to set up a meeting between the association and IHA.

“Mr. Stamboulieh chooses to communicate with me by news releases. But I am more than happy to get information any resident wants on health care,” he said.

But Stamboulieh believes it is Christensen that needs to look at the situation more closely.

“It’s time that Mr. Christensen reflected our concerns and accepted the facts,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

A REVIEW
July 4, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

I read with great interest the letter by the group of doctors and then the letter from the economics professor. Dr. Craig Mitton PhD from Okanagan University. The professor’s letter put the picture into a proper perspective.

I don’t blame the doctors for wanting a better facility that provides for the future as well as the present. My wife worked for years in Vernon Jubilee and put in many hours of unpaid overtime because of the shortage of available resources. I know that doctors do the same. There is a need not only to make informed decisions about the allocation of the limited funding available but more to the point to revamp our health care delivery system.

The following quote from an article in the Fraser Institute’s recent publication “A Sad State of Affairs” written by Nadeem Esmail has this to say:

"Canada’s health care program is one of the most expensive in the developed world but it delivers relatively poor access to physicians, technology, and care. However, the rhetoric extolling the greatness of Canada’s Medicare program and Canada’s approach to health care policy

continues to stifle discussion and debate. The reality is that Canada’s approach to Medicare is the problem; changing the policies that many politicians and pundits defend would markedly improve the performance of Canada’s health care system."

It is time for all of us to review the way we think about our health care system and demand that our government revise the way it delivers it so that we are in tune with the modern reality.

R.J. Reid

Blue Divider Line

Location found for medical clinic
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - July 03, 2008

Armstrong is one step closer to a multi-doctor family practice after the announcement that the Haugen Community Healthcare Society has secured space for a new clinic.

Renovations will begin this weekend on a 3,700-square-foot space in Pharmacy Plaza above the Century 21 offices. When the makeover is complete, likely in October, the space will host four doctors.

A contract for a renewable five-year lease is in the works, although the society hopes to exercise an option to buy the space at fair market value as soon as possible.

Haugen spokesman Nick Watkins said that while the society had received offers from builders and others in town, the size of the office needed, and the fact that the society will be able to purchase the space, made the Pharmacy building the best choice.

“As a committee, we spent a lot of time looking for the most appropriate space,” said Watkins.

The society will provide the building, renovations, furnishings and some basic equipment, while the doctors will pay rent to cover building-related operating expenses.

The doctors will also look after overhead costs.

Already, work is slated to start on the space, with renovations beginning July 5 with the help of Pleasant Valley secondary school students.

Renovations are expected to take around three months, leaving the clinic to open sometime in October.

Watkins said the community group and the doctors are excited about the rate of progress made during the recent months.

In January Dr. Rick Sherwin served notice that if he could not find fellow doctors for Armstrong, he would be forced to close his practice.

And the Haugen Community Healthcare Society has only been around since March.

“The speed of this has been phenomenal, we’re only talking from March until now and here we are, knocking down walls on Saturday,” said Watkins.

The society has already taken in more than $100,000 and plans to continue raising funds in order to purchase the property.

Organizers are also encouraging residents donate the recently distributed $100 carbon credit cheques towards the doctor’s clinic.

“We suggested to the community that (donating the money) is one way to green their carbon cash because if they don’t have to drive to Vernon or Enderby (to visit a doctor) they wouldn’t be creating the emissions and they’d also be keeping the money in Armstrong,” said Watkins.

Blue Divider Line

Health care woes
June 29, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Page A9

A response to Craig Mitton's letter in the June 8, 2008 edition.

He asked "what are you willing to give up" for more beds in the Vernon Jubilee Hospital?

I am sorry but I feel I (and the surrounding community) have already given up our Enderby hospital years ago and are just now watching it be knocked down, violently reminding us of our government's priorities in health care.

I would hope they have enough money to build the tower at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital since they have cut back funding time and time again even going back on their words on nurse's contracts, cutting welfare, closing schools, and shutting down hospitals.

My hope is that they would have a little spare change for that but I fear that none of us here in the Interior are seeing it unless it is being put into making our roads down to the Olympics look more cosmetic.

Meta Attlesey

Blue Divider Line

Health minister responds
June 29, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters page A9

I wish to respond to your May 23rd editorial “Acute care beds needed,” regarding Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

As I’ve written previously in your paper, I recognize Vernon Jubilee has struggled with recent surges in ER patient demand, and I commend the staff at the hospital for their exceptional efforts to provide the excellent care they give each and every day.

The B.C. government is making a significant investment in Vernon Jubilee Hospital, with close to $100 million for capital improvements, which includes the new diagnostic and treatment tower.

Your editorial says that Vernon Jubilee needs new acute care beds, and I agree that this may well be part of the solution for the congestion the hospital experiences. But the ministry cannot act alone on major decisions like these.

Because of this, we are in discussions with the regional hospital district, which would of course be an important funding partner in any expanded plans for the project.

Until those discussions are complete, it would be imprudent to make any commitments at this time.

But I would say once again – as your editorial suggests I am inclined to do – that increasing the number of acute care spaces is not the only solution.

There are patients currently in acute care spaces that would be more appropriately cared for in other types of facilities.

Within a matter of months, we will have opened 108 new residential care beds and 24 assisted living units in the North Okanagan.

This will include 66 new beds at Vernon’s Creekside Villas, opening within weeks.

These new beds will provide some relief for the congestion at Vernon Jubilee.

The needs of the Vernon and North Okanagan communities are very important to our government, and the ministry will continue our discussions on Vernon Jubilee’s acute care bed capacity with the regional board, Interior Health and local hospital staff.

George Abbott,
Minister of health

Blue Divider Line

Doctor shortage must be tackled
June 27, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

Countless North Okanagan residents are without a family physician, so when they need medical attention, they either wait in line at a walk-in clinic or they head to the emergency department at the hospital.

And, unfortunately, this isn't a situation unique to the North Okanagan. It is a scene repeated across the country, especially in small, rural communities where the departure of a physician can place considerable pressure on their remaining colleagues, as well as patients.

The reasons for the growing shortage of physicians are diverse – from many Baby Boom-era doctors retiring to newer professionals not wanting the long hours and demands that go with family practice. There is also the fact that many doctors have also decided to specialize their practice.

And if the reasons for the shortage are diverse, then the solutions are extremely complex.

But that said, it is vital that North Okanagan communities – big and small – tackle the issue because the negative implications are significant.

First off, it is essential that all residents have access to the health care system, especially when the North Okanagan's population is not only increasing, but aging. Secondly, a chronic lack of doctors could eventually lead to some people and businesses not moving here, and that would take its toll on economic development.

Efforts have been launched in Armstrong, and to some limited extent in Greater Vernon, to recruit physicians, but those activities must be escalated.

The doctor shortage must become a priority for politicians at all levels, the health authority, business leaders and rank-and file residents.

Blue Divider Line

Doctors hopeful about tower
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - June 20, 2008

Physicians are cautiously optimistic that upgrades at Vernon Jubilee Hospital will address long-term care health care needs.

In a statement issued to The Morning Star, medical staff state that they are now aware of attempts by the Interior Health Authority to have two shelled-in floors added on to the diagnostic and treatment tower.

“This would allow us the physical space to address this need,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, medical staff president.

Doctors have suggested in the past that current plans for the tower will do little to address the needs of a growing region, including the lack of new acute care beds and an MRI machine.

Currently, IHA is negotiating with the Ministry of Health and the regional hospital district to fund the two extra floors. If that occurs, only the rough outline of floors would be done, with completion only proceeding when dollars exist.

“With support from the government, we are optimistic that we could fill this space operationally,” said Cunningham in the statement.

“We need to continue to work towards acquiring this support from this government, however. We owe this to our patients and this North Okanagan population. With the news of this additional space, we are optimistic and support the planning process of this new patient care tower at VJH to be opened in 2010.”

IHA officials welcome the physicians’ stance on the tower.

“We’ve always had the sense that the physicians support the services going into the tower and their concern was about additional in-patient resources,” said Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer.

It’s hoped that IHA will have a commitment from the ministry and the hospital district this fall on possibly funding two additional shelled-in floors.

As for the dollars needed to complete those floors and open new acute care beds, Konnert says that issue is a few years away from being resolved.

“If they are shelled in, it doesn’t take much to finish the floors,” said Konnert.

Recently, the Vernon Taxpayers Association launched a petition campaign demanding improved resources at VJH. It collected more than 18,000 names.

“The taxpayers association has been instrumental to us, in allowing the North Okanagan population to voice their concerns regarding the need to have the government adequately support acute care services and beds at VJH,” said Cunningham.

Blue Divider Line

Vernon hospital
June 20, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Mr. Abbott: By now you are well aware of the petition that circulated in the Vernon Jubilee Hospital district. Mr Christensen has basically said, petitions really have no value, but they do add to government studies.

The value of the petition is that we are no longer going to put up with studies (every time there is a problem brought up by the media, the answer usually is, "We will study it"), overpaid multi-level bureaucrats and promises of things, to come way in the future,

Our problems are here and now, deal with them.

Since the Liberals have been in absolute power, they have done nothing but close or shut down facilities with promises to build new ones.

If you were really sincere about our needs, you could show good faith by opening up existing beds, that are currently being used as storage.

People having their beds in hallways, I suppose should be grateful, but having to use bathroom facilities with their gowns flapping open, is not really desirable. You know that we have available beds, you choose not to fund them. Where is all our money going?

The Olympic perhaps? Building a $13 million-plus pavilion in China to promote trade? Have you checked the quality of goods, coming from China lately? I have a 2010 Olympic pin made in China, on my purse. After three weeks, the back fell off.

The premier says "British Columbia, the best place to live." He can now add, "and the best place to die."

Rose Pollock

Blue Divider Line

Hospital blues
June 19, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

The Interior Health Authority states that the information put forward by the physicians at Vernon Jubilee Hospital is misleading (Joanne Konnert, Morning Star, May 5).

Do any of us really believe that doctors would become so vocal on a subject with no basis in fact? I think not.

Doctors, for the most part, stay well out of politics and publicity, because they are just too busy taking care of those who need them most — injured and sick people.

For doctors to hold a public meeting is most unusual and the support they received from the public and their colleagues was outstanding.

The doctors are not asking for more money for themselves. They are asking for more money for your treatment, involving more beds, more staff and more diagnostic machines.

They don’t want to attract more patients.

They just want to be able to offer proper care to the overwhelming number of patients they have to serve right now.

If you have read the responses from Mr. Christensen, MLA, and Mr. Abbott, health minister, then you must now wonder just why you voted for them in the first place?

Those in the front lines who take care of us must, by simple logic, be more aware of the shortfalls they are now having to face on an ongoing daily basis. We owe them our support, so call your government representatives and let them know just how disgusted you are with their response.

After all, you are paying their huge salaries, which by the way, you did not have any input on as to the dollar figure they seem to think they are worth.

J. Dalgarno

Blue Divider Line

Long memories
June 19, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

It is with a certain amount of dismay that I have followed the antics of the provincial government's minister of health, George Abbott.

Global Television and the Sun newspaper reported at the Royal Columbian Hospital, “Operating slates are cancelled on a daily basis, operating rooms are closed, and patients are waiting in hallways for nursing care," Dr. Rob Granger wrote in a March 6 letter to Fraser Health Authority CEO Dr. Nigel Murray. Granger said cancer surgeries and other urgent elective surgeries are frequently cancelled for lack of resources. Granger added in the letter, which was also sent to Abbott and the New Democratic Party, “At present, we are truly in a crisis”

But Abbott said it’s not that bad, and the government was considering “strategic investments” to improve conditions at the hospital. Abbott acknowledged Royal Columbian is facing pressures, but called Granger alarmist for referring to it as a crisis. "This is not a hospital in crisis, this is a hospital that has some pressures," said Abbott, challenging some of Granger’s assertions.

One must really wonder sometimes, when you hear remarks like Abbott’s, is he for real or just a bad dream.

Since then, the B.C. Ambulance Service has confirmed there is a crisis at some hospitals. On television, there is a fundraising drive for B.C. Children’s Hospital, which is severely under-funded and overcrowded. Vernon and Kelowna hospitals have reached code purple.

It has become common that maternity patients are transferred out of province, even out of country, and on a daily basis, surgeries are being cancelled. People have died before care can be administered.

Surgeon Hamish Hwang, of Vernon Jubilee Hospital, states, “The facilities at VJH are no longer able to provide safe and timely medical and surgical care to the citizens.”

Doctors, nurses and hospital employees work hard to safeguard the health of citizens. They have warned the general public and their employers that the system is failing and putting people at risk.

The politicians, provincial and federal are reminiscent of Nero. They are fiddling around while the health system is in crisis. Then again, maybe I am wrong and a two-week party at Whistler in 2010 is more important, with projected costs approaching $two billion.

I hope that people remember this at election time.

Jim Benyon

Blue Divider Line

Rhetoric doesn't benefit hospital
June 19, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

It shouldn't really come as a surprise, but the growing political rhetoric over Vernon Jubilee Hospital is unfortunate.

NDP brass made a stop in Vernon Wednesday to raise concerns about conditions at the hospital. And while their comments were likely genuine, one can't forget that the NDP want to undermine the Liberals' credibility in an attempt to regain power in Victoria.

It should also be pointed out that during its 10 years in government, the NDP did little to improve conditions at VJH. In fact, the only focus seemed to be on scrapping the hospital board which was ideologically opposed to the NDP's stance on abortion.

But for the Liberals to dodge current responsibilities by bringing up the failings of the NDP is pathetic. The present and the future are what counts, and there is no question of significant problems at VJH. Code purple has become an almost daily occurrence, and patients are left sitting in halls. The new diagnostic and treatment tower is a positive start, but it will do nothing to address shortages with acute care beds and nurses.

The Liberals have been in power since 2001 and they've dropped the ball since then.

Speaking to the media Wednesday, Vernon Taxpayers Association spokesman Tony Stamboulieh stated that VJH is "an issue that crosses all political borders."

And Stamboulieh couldn't have been more right as hospitals serve the needs of everyone no matter their age, gender, colour, cultural background or political allegiance.

It's time for the Liberals and the NDP to recognize that reality and work towards improving health care, instead of waging a childish war of politics.

Blue Divider Line

NDP targets hospital ‘crisis’
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - June 19, 2008

OPPOSITION HEALTH CRITIC Adrian Dix speaks to reporters outside Vernon Jubilee Hospital Wednesday, with NDP leader Carole James at his side.

The provincial government is accused of ignoring “crisis” conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Carole James, NDP leader, and Adrian Dix, the party’s health critic, made a stop Wednesday to express concern about what they see as a lack of resources at VJH.

“There is a crisis in Vernon and in this region,” said James, adding that there have been 50 code purple alerts so far this year because the facility was at capacity.

“It’s the worst in B.C. and yet the government says there is no problem.”

Recently, 18,000 people signed a petition demanding increased acute care beds, operating rooms and nursing staff at the hospital.

“It should be a sign to the government that there’s a problem. People are speaking out,” said James, who in a subsequent press release, described VJH’s emergency room as “almost constant chaos.”

Much of the focus from doctors has been on the need for more acute care beds, and James agrees.

“Acute care beds are a large part of the problem,” she said, adding that previous cuts to health care are responsible.

James believes the Liberals are too focused on Vancouver.

“Anything that’s outside of the Lower Mainland is ignored by this government. But the resources that support all of us in the province come from the north, the Okanagan and the Interior,” she said.

Members of the Vernon Taxpayers Association met with James and Dix.

Tony Stamboulieh, association spokesman, is concerned about the development of the new $81 million diagnostic and treatment tower and the fact that a large company will not only finance and build it, but operate the tower.

“We want to know the details of the contract before it has been signed. What are they getting out of our public health assets?” he said.

Health Minister George Abbott insists the NDP is misinterpreting the situation at the hospital.

“We haven’t suggested there aren’t challenges. There’s a good reason why we are investing close to $100 million in the next few years,” said Abbott.

“I don’t recall the NDP at any point during their 10 years in government investing any significant dollars at VJH. They talk and we act.”

Tom Christensen, Okanagan Vernon MLA, is quick to refute the claims of the NDP.

“We are working hard to be responsive to what we’ve heard from health care workers,” he said, adding that he and family members have been patients at VJH.

“I would never describe it as chaotic and that is an insult to health care workers who are doing a tremendous job.”

Christensen says the government expanded VJH’s emergency room last year, is moving ahead with the diagnostic and treatment tower and has increased nurse training.

“People need to look at what the NDP did to health care over their 10 years and the investment we’ve made since 2001,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

A better place
June 17, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Four weeks ago, my husband, Mike Stephenson, passed away at Hospice House, having been a resident for just a few days over three months.

As I was with him for twelve hours every day, I got to know all the nurses, care aides, administrative staff and the army of volunteers, all of whom devoted so much time, energy and compassion to both of us.

I cannot name names, for fear of leaving someone out, but all of the wonderful and caring people with whom we came into contact deserve special praise and my and our family’s eternal gratitude.

For an end-of-days care facility, I cannot imagine a better place than your Hospice House.

In addition to praising the workers at Hospice House, I also want to congratulate and say a huge thank you to the people of Vernon and district who have devoted so much talent, time, and treasure to the construction, maintenance, and expansion of the building and grounds.

The way the people have come forward to achieve the new addition to this beautiful facility is amazing and must fill the city with pride, for you have now what must be considered the hospice-care jewel of the entire Okanagan Valley.

If you are wondering how someone from outside the area, for Christina Lake is hardly in the Okanagan, became a resident of Hospice House, we have family in Vernon who were very anxious to see dad get the best possible care.

The level of care available at Hospice House is just not possible in our part of rural B.C., so again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Tanis Stephenson and Family

Blue Divider Line

NDP highlight health care today
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - June 17, 2008

B.C.’s official opposition is taking up the cause of Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

NDP leader Carole James and health critic Adrian Dix will meet with health care workers, residents and patients today, including a press conference outside VJH at 9:30 a.m.

“We want to highlight the issues of importance in the Okanagan and the crisis in health care has hit the Okanagan,” said James.

According to James, she is concerned about the number of code purple (capacity) alerts that have been called at VJH.

“We want to continue to put pressure on the government,” she said.

A recent petition collected 18,000 names, demanding that the provincial government provide more resources at VJH for acute care beds, operating rooms, an MRI machine and nurses.

“We have heard nothing back from the health minister,” said Tony Stamboulieh, spokesman for the Vernon Taxpayers Association, which organized the petition campaign. “There’s not the slightest indication that he has anything to say so it’s commendable that Carole James is coming here to see what’s going on.”

Since the petition was handed over to the government, another 600 names have been received.

“People keep sending their petitions in,” said Stamboulieh.

Blue Divider Line

Health care concerns
June 17, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

As a recent patient of Vernon Jubilee Hospital, I was very surprised at the things I saw and the conditions of our hospital.

Mr. Tom Christensen please rethink what you are saying about our hospital not being short changed.

Hospitals in surrounding areas may have the same problems, but our hospital is in the most critical state.


The staff, doctors and nurses are so run off their feet, they don’t even have time to breath.

While the government needs to take another look at the money and use it to pay more nurses and open up those floors and beds that are so desperately needed, patients are being put out in hallways to accommodate other patients that are in need of a room more.

I happened to have had that same experience while I was there.

Patients should not have to go through that experience at anytime while being in the hospital to get well.

While the beds and more nurses is an issue, the whole health care system is in bad need of attention and changes must be made.

Please think about the people, not your pockets.

Stop making the patients suffer and the nurses work their fingers to the bone.


Help stop code purple!

The government should step up to the plate and do their job. I sure hope I won’t need hospital care anytime soon.

V.M. Cox

Blue Divider Line

Not good enough
June 14, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Dear Mr Abbott,

First of all I don’t like calling you “dear”, as I don’t feel you have our best interests at heart.

I hope you have read the marvelous letter written by Dr.Hamish Hwang in The Morning Star recently. It’s very informative for one who’s been there and that!

I hope you never have to use our hospital facility any time soon but I suspect you would have a priority as most politicians do.

I was lucky to be a breast cancer survivor when Dr. Hamish Hwang’s father Ghee operated on me in 2004. I was lucky! I had a bed to recover in!

My husband has gone through 36 radiation treatments in Kelowna, many thanks to the masons for the shuttle bus to take patients from Enderby, Armstrong and Vernon for treatment. Our government doesn’t seem to see the need for this service.

Mr. Abbott, it would be great if you would stop bobbing your head during question period and look directly at your questioner. It always seems as if you’re hiding something.

So much for this marvellous tower being built at VJH with our tax dollars. Where will the beds be to facilitate its use?

My husband and myself are in our 70’s and have used the emergency department at VJH in the past three months. The service we received was great, but we both saw how taxed they were to lack of staffing.

We feel you and the IHA need to meet our needs - especially for Armstrong and Spallumcheen as we add to the overload at VJH.

In addition, I would hope that you and IHA would seriously rethink the practical use of our Pleasant Valley Health Centre. It has an x-ray and lab in use on site.

Phyllis M. Scott

Blue Divider Line

Voting does count in the end
June 13, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

It is so true that if you live outside of the Lower Mainland that healthcare is tougher to get to....Shortages of everything....doctors, acute care beds, long lists for diagnostics.....and the travelling at your own cost to wherever there is help.

The Liberals have their own agenda and vision not shared with the British Columbians who pay for it...Wouldn't it be nice to know before the election just what we are in for before we vote instead of the "trust me" attitude we now receive. And gone would be the self-serving legislation passed by the government who don't care how hard it is to live with. Let's face it the Liberal government is not very concerned about the poor or middle class except maybe in considering how to get rid of them and their right to vote..believe me this is the ultimate for Campbell...to be king and no votes to worry about.

I agree that we really don't have enough political choices when we go to the polls to vote.....but not voting is not going to fix our woes....health sector or any other sector. If all BCer's take this attitude all that will happen is that those that do vote will have a greater say and the percentage won by the winning party will be bigger.

For example: if 10 people out of 100 eligible voters show up and vote, the other 90 people have to live with the opinion of the 10 people who showed up. This is exactly what the Liberals are counting on.

And it works for them, after all look at how long he (Gordon Campbell) has been in control as more and more BCer's give up in frustration and are a no show on Election Day.

While we need a governing body to look after B.C. it sure is hard to vote when there is very few choices, but, every one needs to show up at the polls to vote.

Maybe we could have a couple extra choices on the ballot:

1. None of the above

2. Not the Liberals

That way there would be a clearer picture of what BCer's really think. More and more people are choosing not to vote because the choices are not reflecting what is really wanted. But, the government really doesn't want to know what we want...they just want to win....any way they can.

We are treated like two-year-olds who you give two choices to....the one you know they hate (discipline) or the one you want them to choose (eat their veggies).

That is B.C.'s choices.

I might not like the choices but, I am not giving in to the Liberals, I will be showing up to vote because I don't believe the few who show up to vote know what I want to say.

Candis Hansen

Blue Divider Line

Unhealthy approach
June 11, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

I’m writing with regard to the article, “Government won’t disclose hospitals’ names,” in the The Morning Star. George Abbott is my MLA as well as health minister, and I’m concerned that he’s taking an unhealthy approach to hospital regulation.

By asking our hospitals to compete with each other for patients, the B.C. government is trying to create a situation that won’t work for many rural residents. People who live in towns or small communities in the Interior, myself and Mr. Abbott included - usually have one local hospital, or perhaps two within an hour’s drive. A hospital which has a better safety record or services might be several hours’ drive away. Only those of us with private vehicles can even take part in this “competition,” cutting out some lower-income rural residents. Sick or injured people who live alone in remote areas might not be able to drive safely the two or three hours to a more desirable hospital, and winter road conditions could further complicate the journey and increase the risk of accidents. All this extra driving in search of better hospitals will also increase air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. This policy of competition could actually lead to more sickness.

However, I also object to the government’s attempt to push the hospitals’ performance rankings under the rug by refusing to disclose how each hospital ranked. We pay for the system through taxes – we have a right to know. I also think it’s “richly ironic” for Abbott to complain about lack of “transparency” under the 1990s NDP government because no food or cleanliness audits were performed. I’d suggest that these audits were begun in the early 2000s because complaints and dissatisfaction had mounted as the new Liberal government cut funding and privatized services.

So what’s the cure? I believe that in our publicity-owned and funded health-care system, everyone has a right to the best possible quality of care in their local hospital – which might be the closest one in a hundred kilometres. Make the statistics public, find out what’s wrong with each low-performing hospital and develop a concrete plan to fix it. If the Health Ministry can’t provide consistent high-quality services in hospitals around the province, perhaps some major political surgery is required.

David J.A. Foster

Blue Divider Line

In search of a solution
June 08, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

There has been much debate in recent months about the acute bed pressures at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital. In particular, a vocal group of physicians has been very clearly advocating for more hospital beds, noting an all too regular state of over-crowding and over-capacity.

It also seems that the physicians recognize that while a major capital expansion is in the works, the pressures are much more immediate, and even once the new tower is built, without further increased capacity, seemingly unlimited demand will continue to cause serious problems for patients and staff. The solution offered by the physicians? More resources funneled to VJH, resulting in more beds, thereby alleviating the gridlock and overcrowding. In response, officials at the Interior Health Authority come back to the new tower (i.e., "expansion is coming") and the need to look at opportunities to increase efficiency. Here we have a stalemate. As is so often the case in the public sector, more discussion is planned.

Let me offer a slightly different perspective. My area of study is health economics. I am not a clinician nor do I work for IHA. My employer is the University of B.C. and I am based at the Okanagan campus in Kelowna. Health economics is about looking at how limited resources should be best allocated within health care. Working in this field necessarily involves collaboration with physicians, nurses, other clinicians, health authority decision makers, government policy makers, and still others such as those with expertise in bioethics, management science and organizational behavior. The basic tenet of health economics is that resources are scarce, and as such, choices have to be made about what services to fund and what services not to fund (or how much of one service to fund vis--vis a given set of alternatives). In this respect, health care decision-making is no different then any other sector: when there are not enough resources to meet all the competing claims, difficult choices have to be made.

If someone was to poll 100 people on the street in Vernon and they were asked — "would you want better access to general practitioners (GPs) in the North Okanagan?" or "do you want to see shorter wait times for surgical procedures?" or, in relation to the current debate ‘would you like more beds to be opened at VJH?" — most people would respond with an unequivocal yes in all three cases. Unfortunately, the almost never asked question is also, in my view, the most important: "If you were to get more beds what would you be willing to give up?" Or, put another way, if it could be argued that every service currently offered is absolutely necessary to its current level of funding, would citizens be willing to have an increase in taxes, either in the form of a progressive tax like income tax, or as a regressive tax like health care premiums. Now of course this latter issue raises questions about how well government spends our tax dollars, thus many would object on that basis alone. But the fundamental point still stands: if more beds are to come into VJH, where will the resources come from?

In order to respond to this question, all of the stakeholders need to roll up their sleeves and get involved. While the issue of beds at VJH is important — critically important for those who need access to an essential service — this is only one issue of many faced by decision makers and clinicians across the Okanagan. In order to move forward practically, at the outset members of the public need to be provided a forum in which they can clearly articulate their values for the health system and be afforded an opportunity to express health care wants in terms of trade-offs.

That requires asking questions that most politicians don’t like to ask, such as, "if we are to get more beds at VJH, would you be willing to see, for example, a reduction in levels of home care services or other community programs?" There are excellent models for this type of citizen engagement in other countries that could be readily used here.

The next step is to tap into local knowledge, by engaging physicians and other clinicians to provide the ‘evidence base’ for making difficult trade-off decisions.

Every community in B.C. has a long list of areas for capital expansion in health care, and an even longer list of wants when it comes to operating dollars. Stating that VJH is under-resourced relative to other hospitals its size, in my view, is not enough. What is needed is sound evidence on patient outcomes; benchmarking is only part of this. Having worked for many years with different groups across the province and elsewhere, every community tends to have its "woe is me" story. One approach is to make enough noise that the policy makers and politicians can’t ignore the problem. But this is not always helpful for an organization like IHA which has as its legislated mandate, to meet the needs of the Southern Interior as a whole. From their perspective, challenges at VJH need to be balanced with those in places like Princeton, Salmon Arm, Trail and Cranbrook.

So the last piece of the puzzle is for IHA, and indeed the Ministry of Health, to have better systems in place to make these trade-off decisions. Believe it or not, there is a rather large literature on health care priority setting. At present, one division in IHA is piloting a particular framework that has been used in other BC health authorities and in many health organizations around the world. As outlined above, the starting place is to get at values from the public, and then engage clinicians to bring forward an evidence-base for strategic decision making. Establishing transparent decision making criteria, having time for appropriate consultation with key stakeholders, and looking explicitly at how resources can be moved or shifted within a given pot of resources, constitute key aspects of the process. There is nothing sexy about this solution. It takes dedicated time and resources.

Bridges have to be built between stakeholders and results have to be evaluated.

One thing most can agree on is that health care is incredibly complex. Sometimes the seemingly obvious solutions will bring us back to the same place in a few short years.

The way to address systemic issues is to introduce better policy tools that can foster a way of thinking that enables clinicians and decision makers to work together to determine how much of one service should be offered and, critically, to identify where the resources will come from in order to make those changes.

Craig Mitton, PhD,

Assistant Professor, UBC-O

Blue Divider Line

The public has spoken
June 08, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

North Okanagan residents have made it known loud and clear that they are fed up with conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

A total of almost 18,000 people from across the region took pen to paper and signed a petition demanding that the provincial government take the situation at VJH, including, it seems like, almost daily code purples, seriously.

It is not good enough for the Interior Health Authority and the provincial government to say that the matter of acute care beds is being looked at — that discussions are underway to possibly fund shelled-in space in the new diagnostic and treatment tower that could be used for beds sometime in the future.

There is a critical need for beds now, and that situation will only get worse as the region's population grows and more pressure is placed on VJH.

With construction of the tower expected to begin later this year, it is time for Victoria to financially commit to additional beds and to provide operational funds for nurses and other support staff. Whether the beds are in the new tower or in vacant space within the existing hospital, is irrelevant. All that matters is that a severe shortage of acute care beds be addressed.

Health Minister George Abbott likes to brag about the $81 million investment in the new tower, and while it will have a significant impact on health care, it, quite frankly, is not enough.

Now is the time for Abbott, Okanagan Vernon MLA Tom Christensen and IHA to acknowledge the problem and to actually do something about it.

If they don't, they will continue to endure the wrath of the public.

Blue Divider Line

VJH situation remains acute
June 06, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

The Interior Health Authority shared a bit of good news at a hastily arrranged press conference at Vernon Jubilee Hospital Thursday afternoon.

Officials say they're aware of the need for acute care beds, as demanded by physicians in a letter to Health Minister George Abbott May 23 and received by North Okanagan municipalities this week.

"Government is looking at the needs and they are clear about the needs for acute care beds" confirmed Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer.

That's heartening but 'government' includes not only the IHA but the provincial government and the North Okanagan-Columbia-Shuswap Regional Hospital District, all of whom will need to be involved in the capital funding for shelved-in floors.

Which will take time to get approved, if at all, not to mention the operating funding.

However, it's still a good sign that IHA is aware that acute care beds are needed beyond the $81 million tower at VJH that is soon to be constructed.

That they are 'working on it as fast as they can' is also a good thing and the tower itself is, of course, welcome and cause for excitement.

What the IHA fails to understand, however, is why it took an unprecedented stance by VJH physicians and a petition campaign from the public to help authorities come to these conclusions.

Why weren't these 'realizations' available to the authorities in the first place to incorporate into the initial tower plan?

Meanwhile, while authorities continue to defend themselves in the midst of controversy, the code purples continue at an alarming rate at our hospital.

The clock continues to tick

Blue Divider Line

Doctors won’t endorse tower
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - June 04, 2008

Seven senior physicians are unwilling to sanction an expansion at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

In a May 23 letter to Health Minister George Abbott, the doctors criticize the construction of a diagnostic and treatment tower.

“As physicians, we can only endorse a facility that will allow us to provide the safest and highest quality of care for our patients,” state Chris Cunningham, Jeff Demetrick, Hamish Hwang, Steven Friesen, Harold Yacyshyn, Jon Friesen and Ken Perrier.

“Therefore, we cannot in good conscience endorse the current plans for the tower without modifications as the needs of the community will not be met with future growth and aging.”

The physicians challenge the designs, and claim that along with no new acute care beds being added, the number of operating rooms will not be sufficient.

The physicians warn that they have the support of the public.

“If the current plans are followed, 10 years from now, the B.C. Liberals’ legacy in the North Okanagan and Shuswap will be the government who ignored the concerns of physicians and the community, ignored their own statistics and projections and built a multi-million dollar hospital facility that was overcapacity the day it opened and only provided expansion potential for five to 10 years,” they state.

“This is not our desire and we want to work together with you to find a solution to this serious problem.”

Cunningham defends the tone of the letter.

“We have concerns that health care services be adequate for a growing region,” he told The Morning Star.

“We are pleased with the tower going through, but it must be adequate.”

The Interior Health Authority met with doctors a few days after the letter was written.

“We have talked to them about their concerns and we have told them we are talking to the regional district about shelved-in space for beds,” said Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer.

As departments move into the new tower, vacant space in the existing hospital could also possibly be used for acute care beds.

Konnert says she was pleased with the meeting with physicians.

“I felt that people were pleased with the tower. They want a firm commitment (on beds) but we can’t do that. That’s three or four years out,” she said of the planning process.

Konnert stands behind the data IHA has used to determine the scope of the tower, and she insists the project must proceed.

“We are talking an intensive care unit, an emergency department and maternal/child. We have to move forward.”

The physicians’ letter was sent to all North Okanagan municipalities, and was discussed by Lumby council Monday.

“It’s a regional hospital and we all use it. We’ve all heard the stories of people being admitted and sitting in hallways,” said Mayor Eric Foster.

Abbott could not be reached for comment.

Blue Divider Line

Bravo
June 4, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

After reading several articles and an editorial in the April 9, 2008 edition of The Morning Star, and the April 16, 2008 edition of The Armstrong Advertiser, regarding the rally behind finding a solution to the doctor shortage in Armstrong/ Spallumcheen, we are heartened by news that politicians have come to realize how important doctors’ care is to this community.

We commend Health Minister, George Abbott, for taking another look at the problem, and meeting with Mayors Oglow and Hansma, joining forces to review options in order to enable a workable and viable proposition be found.

However, our applause goes to the residents who have made their voices heard, and to people like Tom Nordstrom, to the Realtors, to Kindale.

Without these powerful voices, heard all the way to Victoria, we doubt anything would have been done and the loss of our existing doctors would be irreversible.

So give yourselves a standing ovation!

In closing, we would like to say how proud we are of our part.

Armstrong/Spallumcheen Health Care Auxiliary, i.e. The Bargain Bin

Blue Divider Line

Westsiders still hanker for their own hospital
By Jason Luciw - Kelowna Capital News - Published: June 04, 2008

Efforts to bring a hospital to Westside have reached new heights.

A petition has been circulating in the community for less than a month and already 5,000 people have signed their names to it, according to organizer John Burke.

He pulled out binders full of signatures as proof of the headway he and fellow volunteers have made by knocking on doors, leaving sheets on countertops at major retailers and from setting up info booths at malls since the beginning of May.

Burke said a hospital in Westside would provide better access to health care to 45,000 people from Fintry to Peachland, and possibly another 12,000 residents as far south as Summerland. Therefore, a Westside hospital would relieve pressures on the Okanagan’s three existing major health facilities in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, he added.

“I am going for a full blown hospital because of the overcrowding in the other three hospitals.”

Petition supporter Ron Green said, he hoped Interior Health would soon start to come around to the fact that Westside needs a hospital because of its burgeoning population.

Another supporter of the petition is former Tahsis mayor Sylvia McNeil, who now lives in Westside.

McNeil said her tiny Vancouver Island community of 700 had better health care than Westside, which has more than 60 times the population of Tahsis.

“The emergency care was better (there) than it is here,” said McNeil. “You wouldn’t die waiting for someone to take care of you if you had a heart attack.”

Green added that Interior Health planned poorly when it decided to proceed first with a major expansion at Kelowna General Hospital before considering some sort of hospital in Westside.

McNeil stated that Westside taxpayers should be angry that they must foot part of the bill for a major expansion at KGH when their own community needs its own acute care facility. “We’ve got young families, we’ve got a busy, busy highway that goes through the centre of this community that’s dangerous, we’ve got more and more seniors living here,” she said.

And there are staff at Kelowna General Hospital, who live in Westside, who would love to work in their home town, added McNeil.

“We’ve got staff, now all we need is a building.”

Minutes after the statement was made, McNeil’s comment was confirmed. A woman who works at KGH signed the petition, saying she would love to work at a Westside facility.

The petition calls on Interior Health to nix its notion that a health centre, which is little more than a clinic, is all Westside needs.

Petition organizers have tentatively called themselves the Okanagan Westside Hospital Association, and formed a six-member executive now seeking society status from the provincial government.

However, Victoria has been unwilling to grant the group nonprofit status. The province doesn’t want the organization to use the word healthcare or hospital in its title, said Burke.

jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

Clinical research growing and remains necessary
By Paul Latimer - Kelowna Capital News - May 30, 2008

Recently published reports in the U.S. say drug research increased by $2.7 billion in 2007 and pharmaceutical companies spent a total of $58.8 billion on research and development during the year.

Right now in the U.S. there are about 2,700 medicines under development compared with only 2,000 five years ago.

Although I don’t have any numbers specific to Canada, it probably doesn’t surprise you to learn the pharmaceutical research industry is a huge and growing enterprise here and around the world.

I wonder if you are aware of the number of studies happening right here in our own community?

Right now there are 157 studies listed as current in the Kelowna area on www.clinicaltrials.gov— a website run by the U.S. government, which lists ongoing or recently completed clinical studies.

Of the studies currently ongoing or recently completed in our area, there are 68 dealing with treatments for a wide range of cancers,17 for psychiatric disorders, several dealing with chronic pain conditions, treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

In addition to these, there are ongoing studies in a huge variety of conditions from asthma and allergies to insomnia, pulmonary embolism and many more.

These studies are carried out at several different clinics and locations throughout the city including the Kelowna General Hospital, our cancer centre and other medical clinics as well as dedicated research centres such as Okanagan Clinical Trials.

All medical studies require volunteers from the community to participate—and there are many opportunities regardless of gender or age.

Chances are, if you have an illness and aren’t satisfied with conventional treatment options, there could be an ongoing study for which you are qualified.

In past articles I have discussed the benefits of participating in clinical research.

By taking part in a study, the patient has the opportunity to play a role in helping the medical community understand disorders and new treatments.

Not only do study volunteers assist in advancing medical knowledge, but during drug studies there is also a chance the patient will be able to try a new treatment that may be very effective and all treatment costs are covered by the company sponsoring the study.

In my opinion, one of the best advantages to taking part in a clinical trial is the extra time and attention that is taken with patients.

For every trial there is a dedicated team of medical professionals who work with participants, there are usually more visits to the doctor than in a regular medical setting and more time spent at each visit.

Doctors conducting clinical research get exposure to new therapies and learn in detail how the treatments work and whether they are effective.

This experience gives them a broader knowledge base from which to treat patients in their regular practice.

Clinical studies are crucial for all areas of medicine.

All medications given by prescription have gone through this process in order to gain approval.

Without clinical trials, there would be no new approved medications or treatments for any medical conditions.

Unfortunately, there is always a shortage of suitable volunteers for studies.

This is partly because many people who volunteer do not meet the usually very strict criteria for study participation.

These shortages very often lead to long delays and mean new medications are not available as quickly as they could be.

I encourage anyone with a medical condition requiring treatment to ask about research opportunities.

Not only will you receive the benefits listed above, but you will be doing a service to the community and all those experiencing the same health problem now and in the future.

Dr. Paul Latimer, president of Okanagan Clinical Trials and local psychiatrist, can be reached at 862-8141.

dr at okanaganclinicaltrials.com

Paul Latimer is president of Okanagan Clinical Trials and operates his own psychiatry practice. His column focus is on mental health, helping us understand various treatments, both prescription and alternative, that can help control the symptoms.

Blue Divider Line

Petition results released Friday
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - June 01, 2008

The outcome of a North Okanagan petition campaign will soon be known.

The results of the petition demanding more resources for Vernon Jubilee Hospital will be announced Friday at 10 a.m. at Vernon city hall.

Tony Stamboulieh, with the Vernon Taxpayers Association, won’t speculate on the number of signatures, but he is confident that it will be significant.

“We are expecting a very good statement from the electorate on the issue,” he said.

“There is a lot of concern and a lot of anger about the hospital. People are determined that this will become a provincial issue.”

The public is urged to attend the announcement.

“We also invite our local MLAs — Tom Christensen and George Abbott — and all of the mayors and councillors in the region to attend,” said Stamboulieh.

The petition has been available throughout the North Okanagan.

“We remind people to turn in their petitions,” said Stamboulieh.

“There is an address on the form they can mail it to or they can deliver them to Vernon Radiology Clinic.”

Blue Divider Line

Government need not interlope over our freedoms
May 30, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News - Letters

To the editor:

In a recent issue of the Capital News (May 25), I was interested reading the column by Dr. Markus Thiel.

Like Dr. Thiel, I seldom get involved in political discussions verbally or written. In fact I have made it a policy not to sign partitions, send chain mail or even write letters to the editor of the various papers.

But I have had my interest aroused by the Bill C-51 proposal.

My wife and I have had the services of the same medical doctor for about 12 years and have received many prescriptions in that time.

From time to time our doctor has suggested the use of natural remedies from the health stores, always advising us to be careful on what we purchase, suggesting that we check with our pharmacist as to the possibility of interaction with our prescribed medications.

I believe using the existing system in this manner gives a very effective safety check and leaves our safety where it belongs, that is in our own hands.

I believe we have a working system now and if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

Politically I haven’t been too unhappy with the existing party, but if this is an example of their thinking, I hate to think where we are going if they should get a majority in the next election.

I do not want the government or their agents having freedom to enter my home on any whim that they think is just cause.

I suppose that any of the products that are put on the prescription list would also be covered by the B.C. medical system. In fact, half of the ones now on the list aren’t covered.

Ron Parks,
Kelowna

Blue Divider Line

Vernon man suing doctors
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - May 30, 2008

A Vernon man who underwent two liver transplants is suing a team of doctors, nurses and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority after being set on fire during the first transplant at Vancouver General Hospital.

Robbin Reeves, 54, unemployed and living on disability, filed a writ through his lawyer, Violet Allard of Vancouver, in B.C. Supreme Court.

The former pipefitter and dock builder, along with Allard, declined to comment on the matter to The Morning Star.

Court records obtained by The Morning Star show Reeves went in to Vancouver General Hospital for a liver transplant in February, 2006, performed by defendants Dr. Andrej Buczkowski, a transplant surgeon, and Dr. Urs P. Steinbrecher, a gastroenterologist.

During surgery, Reeves underwent cardiac arrest right after the transplant, requiring cardiac massage, for which the doctors sought the assistance of defendants Dr. Richard Cook and Dr. Michael Janusz, both cardiac surgeons. Cardiac massage was performed on Reeves while he was still under anesthesia.

It’s alleged in the court document that while having cardiac massage performed, Reeves’ right ventricle, or heart chamber, was lacerated. The ventricle was repaired with a procedure called a sternotomy.

During the preparation for the sternotomy, Reeves’ left neck and shoulder area caught fire and he suffered serious burns.

In June, 2006, Reeves complained of chest pains, and had a broken sternal wire removed in August ‘06. Reeves had to be admitted to hospital again in March 2007 with chest pain secondary to the sternal wires, and is still experiencing pain because of them.

In July, 2006, it was discovered that Reeves’ liver transplant had failed, and he underwent a second transplant in March 2007.

Reeves is seeking damages for negligence and breach of contract.

As of Tuesday, the defendants had not filed a statement of defence.

Blue Divider Line

News Briefs
May 28, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - News

Just a few more days to sign hospital petition

The deadline to sign a health care petition is drawing near.

Saturday is the last day for the petition campaign which is demanding more provincial resources for Vernon Jubilee Hospital, including acute care beds.

One last push for the campaign came at Vernon council Monday.

“I would encourage all to sign the petition,” said Coun. Barry Beardsell.

The petition — which was launched by the Vernon Taxpayers Association — is available throughout the North Okanagan.

Vernon air show grounded for this year

The popular Father’s Day Air Show won’t be taking flight this year.

Mayor Wayne Lippert announced Monday that a non-profit society has not been formed yet, and that means nothing has been organized for the event.

“Hopefully someone will step up and we will have a real good show next year,” he said.

Airport staff previously organized the show, but council decided earlier this year that the duties should become the responsibility of a new non-profit organization.

Environmental management strategy endorsed

More legislation is in place to protect Vernon’s environment.

Council has given its support to a new environmental management areas strategy.

“This is quite a dramatic change,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham of the strategy.

“I’m so excited about this.”

The environmental management priorities include air and water quality, the protection of natural areas and wildlife habitat, alternative energy and alternative transportation.

Applicants sought for college board

Interest is being sought from individuals who may want to serve on the Okanagan College board of governors.

There are two anticipated vacancies that will open in June 2008.

The appointments are generally for a one-year term and may be followed by subsequent two-year appointments.

Knowledge of a learning environment as well as First Nations communities would be an asset.

The closing deadline for applications is June 12. For more information, go to www.lcs.gov.bc.ca/BRDO/apply.asp. Information can also be obtained by calling 762-5445 local 4712.

Blue Divider Line

Abbott to pursue another term
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 28, 2008

With just a few days left to determine his political future, Shuswap MLA George Abbott has an answer for Premier Gordon Campbell and his constituents.

Abbott has decided that he will seek another term during the May 2009 provincial election.

“I’ve been involved in political life since 1979 and I enjoy the life. I enjoy the challenges and I find it interesting,” he said.

Campbell wants to know the election plans of all Liberal MLAs by Saturday.

Abbott was first elected to the Legislature in 1996, and he is currently health minister.

“There are still things that I want to do, particularly in the Ministry of Health,” he said.

“There is more that I can do and the B.C. Liberals can do for the province.”

Family played a role in his decision, but a main consideration in determining his political future was whether he wanted to resume his previous career as a college instructor.

“It’s something that attracts me but the political world is an exciting one,” said Abbott.

Prior to becoming an MLA, he was a director with the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District.

Abbott is not the only local MLA hoping to be re-elected next year. Okanagan Vernon’s Tom Christensen has informed Campbell that he will let his name stand during the election.

Blue Divider Line

Petition handled very poorly
May 25, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

It’s unfortunate that freedom of speech has been added to the list of problems at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. And the removal of a petition from the emergency department waiting room comes as a surprise as the petition’s entire focus is to try and get the resources VJH so desperately requires. It’s hard to believe that anyone with the Interior Health Authority would be opposed to that.

But administrator Peter Du Toit has suggested that the hospital and staff should not be involved in anything political. And he certainly has a case as the petition has residents and most North Okanagan municipal councils lobbying the provincial government for more funding.

But politics plays a minor role in the entire issue. The bottom line, ultimately, is the well-being of North Okanagan residents and their health care. It’s about the patients who get shoved into a hall because there is no room for them, or have surgery cancelled because of the waitlist.

Funding for VJH does come from the provincial government, and the IHA’s board is appointed by Victoria, but it is supposed to operate as as stand-alone jurisdiction. If it is truly interested in the public it serves, IHA would take a firm stand instead of worrying about upsetting its political masters.

In terms of the petition taking time away from staff who have to answer public questions, that is fair comment. But that could be easily resolved by instructing staff to make the petition available but to only answer questions when they don’t interfere with patient care.

In the end, IHA and the public are on the same team. We all want what’s best for the hospital. But administration needs to acknowledge that its case for improved resources can be bolstered if they embrace the public’s willingness to get involved.

Blue Divider Line

Health care woes
May 25, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

I am writing to express my concerns about what is going on in our health care system. My concerns are both local and about the Interior of B.C. generally. I am semi-retired and health care becomes a bigger issue each year for our family.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I am not opposed to the concept of specialized health care facilities. It makes sense to specialize hospitals and not try to be everything to all patients at each location.

What I am opposed to is the reduction of facilities in the Interior of the province while more and more is invested in medical infrastructure in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley region.

We do not have equal access to health care in B.C. The Interior population continues to grow, and age, and more and more people are required to travel to the Lower Mainland area at their own cost to get medical treatment.

Just answer these questions for yourself. When was the last time someone had to travel from the Lower Mainland to the Interior for medical treatment?

It’s the Heartland strategy. Take the resource revenues and taxes from the industries in the Heartland and spend them on transportation and medical infrastructure in the Lower Mainland.

It seems to me that the only difference between the Liberal government and the NDP is that the NDP works at shutting down the resource industries and then borrows money to spend on transportation and medical infrastructure in the Lower Mainland.

What we are getting is promises and the odd bit of pavement and patches on roads that were built when W.A.C. Bennett was premier.

While I am at it, I want to raise the issue of health care premiums. This is one tax that I truly resent.

I get angry every time I pay this tax and realize that no one in any of the so-called have not provinces has to pay any direct cost for health care, while B.C. tax dollars create transfer payments to pay for health care elsewhere.

I realize that for many British Columbians, this is not an issue because their employers pay for their health care premiums, or their pension plans. For me it is and issue and the health care premiums need to go away. Now.

On a more personal note, I am now in my ninth week of waiting for a CT scan at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

After four or five weeks, this process gets old — fast. You can’t even find out where you are in the line-up. It’s all very secret. The people that work in health care appear to be more interested in protecting their jobs and the system than in providing customer service.

Can you imagine a business where you won’t tell the customer when he can expect his service? In the real world, a company that did that would be out of business in about two months.

After this amount of time, I don’t need any reasons or excuses. .

In a while, the Liberals will be asking for the support of my family and me to return them to Victoria for another term.

If the vote were today, I wouldn't’t vote. I can’t vote for the NDP and at this time, the Liberals don’t deserve our votes.

Doug Edwards

Blue Divider Line

VJH administration comes under fire
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 25, 2008

A Vernon Jubilee Hospital official is accused of hindering a petition demanding improved health care.

The Vernon Taxpayers Association is upset that VJH administrator Peter Du Toit ordered a petition organized by the group removed from the emergency department’s waiting room.

“He has no right to deny people access to the petition, especially when it deals with the hospital,” said Tony Stamboulieh, association spokesman.

“He is interfering in the process and the free flow of information.”

The petition calls on the provincial government to provide more resources for acute care beds as well as nurses and operating rooms.

Stamboulieh points out that Du Toit is a public servant and VJH is a taxpayer-funded facility.

“He has no right to interfere with the process,” said Stamboulieh.

Du Toit acknowledges that he asked staff to remove the petition from the emergency waiting room.

“We don’t think the hospital or staff should be involved in political issues,” he said.

Du Toit also believes the presence of the petition could take away from staff duties.

“What happens is people ask questions and engage staff to answer questions, that could take away from time to provide care,” he said.

The petition campaign will wrap up Saturday, and Stamboulieh says the number of names grows daily.

“We are seeing strong support throughout the region,” he said.

Stamboulieh would not speculate on how many names have been collected to date, but he says the final figure will be revealed after the deadline.

However, he is confident that the petition will send a strong message to the provincial government and Interior Health Authority.

“There is a disconnection between the people entrusted to run the government and the people who pay the money — the taxpayers,” he said,

VJH is regularly at code purple (full) status, and Stamboulieh insists that is impacting patient care.

“The stories we hear are hair-raising,” he said.

“The people who sign the petition know what the facts are personally or through family members.”

The petition is available at Armstrong Bakery, Armstrong city hall, the Ashton Creek Store, Askew’s in Armstrong, Butcher Boys, the Coldstream municipal office, Hungry Jack’s in Enderby, the Enderby Credit Union, Enderby IDA Pharmacy, the Falkland Store, the Halina Centre, the Lumby Pharmacy, North Valley Echo in Enderby, Pleasant Valley Quilting in Armstrong, Serenity Tanning, Shepherd’s Hardware in Armstrong, Spallumcheen municipal office, Towne Cinema, Vernon city hall, the downtown Safeway pharmacy, Okanagan Sausage on 30th Avenue and at doctor’s offices.

Volunteers will also have petition-signing tables at the Swan Lake Nurseryland, the Vernon Farmers’ Market, and Buy-Low Foods.

Anyone wishing to download the petition can find it at vernonblog.blogspot.com.

Blue Divider Line

Find a facility, and Armstrong doctors will stay
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - May 23, 2008

Armstrong doctors and a group of residents may have found a cure for Armstrong’s doctor shortage.

Three doctors have told the Haugen Community Health Care Society that they will stay in Armstrong if the group can provide a facility.

Long-time Armstrong doctor Rick Sherwin had previously said that he would be forced to stop practicing in Armstrong if a joint-practice could not be established – something he said would require the underwriting of overhead costs.

But now that two physicians practicing in the community on a temporary basis have agreed to stay if a facility can be found, Sherwin is excited at the opportunity. He said the doctors will cover overhead costs and will take it upon themselves to recruit a fourth member for the clinic, something sure to be easier with a group practice.

“The attraction for the fourth now is a group practice with good colleagues and the building and I’m hoping that will be enough to make that attractive,” said Sherwin.

The community group, meanwhile, will take responsibility for raising the funds needed to purchase a facility for the doctors.

Spokesman Nick Watkins said events are moving at a rapid pace and the society is already looking at making a decision on a possible building.

“I would hope by next week that we could have an announcement of that facility for you – it’s that close,” said Watkins.

He said the group is looking at needing more than $500,000 to purchase and renovate a facility to meet the necessary specifications for a four-doctor medical practice.

Watkins credited the doctors for trusting that the community will be able to provide a facility for them to practice.

“If the doctors wouldn’t take this leap of faith, we’re not going anywhere,” he said.

Plans for a community block party next week are in full swing to kick off fundraising efforts. The block party, details for which are still in the works, is slated to take place May 31 in the VantageOne parking lot.

Fundraiser efforts already have a launching point, though.

A survey conducted by the group turned up 61 per cent of respondents who indicated they would consider donating to the cause and, in March, the Armstrong/Spallumcheen Health Care Auxiliary pledged $75,000 towards a new clinic.

Watkins said he realizes there are residents who believe the government should provide all health care financing. But, he added: “The government has not shown an inclination so far to help us with this, therefore we’re filling the vacuum.

Both Armstrong Mayor Jerry Oglow and Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma have expressed their enthusiasm for the agreement between the doctors and health care group.

Blue Divider Line

Legislature debates VJH
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 23, 2008

There appears to be no guaranteed plans for more beds at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, despite comments from a local MLA suggesting that is the case.

Conditions at VJH dominated debate in the Legislature Tuesday, and George Abbott, Shuswap MLA and health minister, defended the government’s actions.

“We are going to deliver a new ambulatory tower, new acute care beds and close to a $100 million investment in VJH,” he said in the House.

Those comments led some to wonder if an announcement on beds had been made because acute care beds are currently not part of plans for a new tower.

Abbott, though, clarified the situation Wednesday.

“We are in discussions with the North Okanagan-Columbia-Shuswap Regional Hospital District, discussing with them the possibility of adding a floor to the ambulatory tower at Vernon for future development as acute care space,” he said during a media scrum.

“Those discussions have not been completed, but they are underway. So there is a good possibility that that will happen.”

The Interior Health Authority confirms there are discussions with IHA and the company that may build the tower.

“There is nothing definite right now,” said Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer.

Adrian Dix, NDP health critic, believes Abbott’s comments in the House were a slip of the tongue.

“It indicates the government is feeling the pressure,” he told The Morning Star.

On Tuesday, Abbott and Dix sparred over VJH in the Legislature.

“From Jan. 1 of this year, the first four months of this year, there were 41 code purples called at that hospital — 41 calls to rapidly discharge patients because the overcrowding of the ER was at a dangerous point,” said Dix during the discussion.

Abbott responded by saying, “What’s becoming a daily occurrence is an opposition desperate for headlines, so desperate they call their own code oranges now.”

In an interview with The Morning Star, Abbott would not second guess over-capacity protocols at VJH, but believes the Interior Health Authority is handling the situation responsibly.

Abbott also pointed out that new residential care beds will free up space within VJH, as will the new ambulatory tower.

“We would not be investing close to $100 million if it (VJH) was not an important part of our health delivery system.”

But Dix doesn’t believe the new tower is a sufficient response to the needs of local residents.

“They need more acute care beds for starters and there is a funding issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Acute care beds needed
May 23, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

Health Minister George Abbott likely got some hopes up when he told the Legislature Tuesday that the government is going to “deliver a new ambulatory tower, new acute care beds and close to a $100 million investment in VJH.”

Doctors, nurses and residents already knew about the tower so word of the acute care beds came as a surprise because they previously hadn’t been part of the expansion plans.

But the prospect of more acute care beds, unfortunately, was too good to be true.

Instead, Abbott is now saying there are discussions between his ministry and the regional hospital district that could possibly lead to a new floor with acute care beds.

But while the clarification is welcome, it’s not good enough.

It’s increasingly obvious that there is a severe shortage of acute care beds at VJH and that is having a significant impact on patients. It’s not acceptable to have patients laying in hallways or diverted to other facilities in the valley because VJH is full.

Abbott likes to focus on residential care beds, and while they play a role in freeing up space at VJH, they are only one part of the equation. There has to be a major focus on ensuring there are sufficient hospital beds to meet the needs of a growing region.

With construction of the tower set to begin this summer, now is the time for the government to financially commit to additional beds. And if they can’t be placed there, then a commitment is needed to place them in the existing hospital when several departments make the move over to the tower.

Abbott may have misspoke when he talked about investing in acute care beds, but the reality is, that’s what the region needs.

Blue Divider Line

Doctor shortage
May 16, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

I think that the Armstrong city council has made unfair comments in response to Dr. Sherwin’s request for support for a multi doctor clinic. There is an inference that Dr. Sherwin is being greedy in requesting subsidization of the clinic’s overhead. With the shortage of family doctors across the country, some form of incentive will be necessary in order for Armstrong to compete. Some communities have offered to pay off the newly qualified doctor’s debt (often more than $100,000) in exchange for a guarantee of an extended period of practice in the community.

I can sympathize with Dr. Sherwin as I left a family practice in Saskatchewan primarily because of overwork and the fact that we were unable to attract new doctors. I did not leave because of inadequate payment and I am sure that Dr. Sherwin’s recommendation is not due to a desire to increase his income, but rather to attract new doctors so that he can have a reasonable private family life.

The Armstrong council is being shortsighted and may soon be looking for four new doctors rather than three. In the meantime, the citizens of Armstrong may have to rely on the walk-in clinics in Vernon.

This country’s current doctor shortage is due to the short-sighted economists in government who recommended the medical school cutback in the early 90’s.

J. S. Graham, MD, FRCS

Blue Divider Line

Funding formula is flawed
May 14, 2008 -Vernon Morning Star - Letters

I learned a lot from the excellent presentation made by Drs. Cunningham and Hwang at the Schubert Centre on April 9. Their facts outlined clearly that Vernon Jubilee Hospital serves not only the North Okanagan but also most of the Shuswap.

I agree with them completely about the need for an additional operating room and more acute care beds. The statistics are clear that VJH is not getting its fair share of hospital funding from the Interior Health Authority. The problem stems from how IHA has cut up the funding pie.

The hospital funding for most of the Shuswap…Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Revelstoke, and so on is allocated to the hospital at Kamloops. The problem is that people from these areas are going to VJH. This creates an inherent injustice in the funding formula since Vernon receives no funding for providing the hospital services it does for these people.

This skews the IHA data and means the basic inequity does not show up until the data is broken down differently to make clear where the hospital users are coming from. When Drs. Cunningham and Hamish did that the figures leap off the page. They show beyond any doubt that people from Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and other parts of the Shuswap come to Vernon for most of their hospital needs.

Thus our MLA Tom Christensen is correct when he states that VJH is being treated fairly according to IHA data. Unfortunately, that data does not reflect reality and does not give VJH the credit it should for the Shuswap clientele that come to its operating rooms and acute care beds. Thus, Tom is both right and wrong at the same time.

I urge him to confirm this with Drs. Cunningham and Hamish and then to speak with his neighbouring colleague, the Health Minister George Abbott. It is fortunate that Mr. Abbott is the MLA for Shuswap and the northernmost parts of the Okanagan and; hopefully, he will be as keen as Mr. Christensen to correct this fundamental funding formula injustice. No extra funds are needed. All that needs doing is to correctly reallocate the existing funds between the Kamloops and Vernon hospitals to reflect fairly the populations they actually serve.

Governments being governments, this probably will not happen as quickly as it should so we all should make sure we sign the petition being prepared by the Vernon Taxpayers Association. As well, we should contact anyone we know on the IHA board and make them aware of the funding misallocation between these two hospitals.

Some point out that Vernon has not been overlooked and is getting a new $81 million dollar diagnostic tower.

The point is, though, that tower is being built on false premises. The IHA data has been proven to be flawed and not to reflect properly the true need for another operating room and extra acute care beds at VJH. This needs to be rectified before the shovels start digging.

Our scarce hospital dollars need to be spent to get us the best bang for the buck. For that to happen, they need to be based on data more reflective of what is really the case as opposed to what the skewed IHA data base assumes is but isn’t.

Now is the time to put things right and not waste time pointing fingers or laying blame. Hospitals are a fundamental need and when something is shown about them to be off the rails everyone needs to hop on board and do whatever they can to make things right. Letters help, signing a petition helps, even better is if you know a MLA or IHA board director personally and make sure they are up to speed on what the problem is and what needs doing.

It is crucial that our MLA be educated. He still believes and has been quoted as saying “Its’ a simplistic view to look at one hospital without looking at the system as a whole.” That is not what Drs. Cunningham and Hamish have done and it is unfortunate that our MLA would accuse, unwittingly or not, the president of VJH medical staff of being so nave without bothering to confirm the true facts. Shame on you sir!

We need you to get on top of this and stand up for our hospital.

You are a cabinet minister and we need your political clout to correct this flawed hospital funding injustice.

Jim Bodkin

Blue Divider Line

Petition protesting VJH conditions gathers steam
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 11, 2008

North Okanagan residents continue to put pen to paper to protest conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

While it’s not known how many people have signed a petition demanding increased resources for VJH, organizers say the number grows daily.

“Things have been going very well. There’s going to be a very good petition result,” said Tony Stamboulieh, spokesman for the Vernon Taxpayers Association.

The petition was launched as a result of VJH regularly being at code purple (full).

It calls on the provincial government to provide more resources for acute care beds as well as nurses and operating rooms.

“People are mad and it will become an election issue,” said Stamboulieh of patients being placed in hallways.

“People are hopping mad at being treated like cattle.”

The names on the petition aren’t just from Vernon.

“From right across the region we are getting support,” said Stamboulieh.

The petition is available at Armstrong Bakery, Armstrong city hall, the Ashton Creek Store, Askew’s in Armstrong, Butcher Boys, the Coldstream municipal office, Hungry Jack’s in Enderby, the Enderby Credit Union, Enderby IDA Pharmacy, the Falkland Store, the Halina Centre, the Lumby Pharmacy, North Valley Echo in Enderby, Pleasant Valley Quilting in Armstrong, Serenity Tanning, Shepherd’s Hardware in Armstrong, Spallumcheen municipal office, Towne Cinema, Vernon city hall, local doctor’s offices and medical clinics.

Volunteers will also have petition signing tables at the Swan Lake Nurseryland, the Vernon Farmers’ Market, Buy-Low Foods and the Schubert Centre.

Anyone wishing to download the petition can find it at vernonblog.blogspot.com.

If anyone can volunteer to circulate the petition, call 260-1082.

The petition campaign will wrap up May 31.

“We will release the results at that time,” said Stamboulieh

Blue Divider Line

Concerns abound over VJH plan
May 11, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

It’s no surprise that the provincial government continues to white-wash a planned expansion at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

A preferred private consortium has been selected for negotiations that could lead to it designing, building, financing and maintaining the diagnostic and treatment tower. As part of the announcement, MLA Tom Christensen said a new facility, “will bring together existing programs in a more efficient facility that will enhance patient care now, as well as allow for future expansion.”

And yet there is no guarantee that the new tower will meet the future needs of a growing region.

There is no firm commitment on additional acute care beds or guaranteed funding for extra operating rooms and surgical theatres. No where is there space allotted for equipment such as an MRI.

And despite the government’s rhetoric, there are other unanswered questions that come to mind. Will maintenance staff at VJH be privatized and, if they are, what will that mean in terms of providing a safe, healthy environment for patients? There’s also been no debate on public/private partnerships and whether turning the tower over to a corporation is the best thing for health care or taxpayers.

One gets the impression that while negotiations must still be completed, that a deal with Infusion Health is a foregone conclusion — that the province and the Interior Health Authority got on the P3 highway and nothing will force them off course.

But as the process continues, let’s hope that it’s patient care that remains the priority and not free-enterprise ideology.

Blue Divider Line

Thank you for your email of April 2, 2008, regarding the physician shortage in Armstrong. Minister Abbott has asked me to respond to you on his behalf.

The Government is committed to long-term health human resources planning. In partnership with the health authorities, we are providing more education opportunities and developing strategies to create a positive and progressive labour and regulatory environment. The Government recognizes rural communities and remote regions of the province are faced with service delivery challenges that differ from those in urban areas. The Ministry of Health is working closely with physicians and the health authorities to implement a number of strategies to recruit physicians to rural communities.

The Government recently announced that more than $40 million of provincial funding has been allocated to expand the academic mandate at key teaching hospitals throughout the province in support of the medical school expansion. This has doubled the number of undergraduate first-year medical student spaces at the University of British Columbia from 128 in 2003, to 256 in September 2007, through collaborations at the University of Victoria and the University of Northern British Columbia.

The Ministry is working to improve the rural recruitment of physicians and has implemented the Rural Recruitment Incentive for communities with seven or less physicians. Physicians who are recruited to fill current or pending vacancies in eligible rural communities receive a $10,000 incentive if they stay with the community for one year. In addition, a contingency fund has been established to assist eligible communities with recruiting expenses, in the event of difficulty filling a vacancy. Grants from the contingency fund may be used to increase the $10,000 incentive benefit for a new physician or for recruiting expenses.

In addition, some communities have been identified as ‘communities of need’ through a new program called the Family Physicians for British Columbia (FPs4BC) program. The FPs4BC program is an agreement between the Ministry and the British Columbia Medical Association and is intended to attract and retain recently qualified physicians to provide full service family practices in communities of the province where there is a demonstrated need. Participants in the FPs4BC program may apply for maximum funding of $100,000.

With respect to Armstrong, I can assure you that Interior Health Authority staff are actively working to recruit physicians to this area.

Thank you for taking the time to write. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Sincerely,
Ann Marr
Executive Director

pc: Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier

Blue Divider Line

Hospital crisis
May 7, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

I have read with interest the remarks made by our MLA Tom Christensen in reply to the concerns expressed by our local doctors as to the lack of beds and operating rooms in Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Is Mr. Christensen a regular visitor to our hospital to observe the overcrowding - does he think patients are in the hallways by preference so they can be the centre of attraction and viewed by everyone coming to that ward?

How degrading for these patients to have to be on display to all and sundry to see. Mr. Christensen needs to stick to his own profession and keep out of the health and medical situation of which he has no expertise. 

Neither him nor MLA George Abbott should be making decisions on something that is verging on disaster and of which they have no knowledge.

Surely these two gentlemen do not think that our doctors have nothing to do with their time but to call town hall meetings to address the crisis in our hospital, and same for the 200 citizens that attended the meeting. How can we expect doctors and nurses to stay here when they are expected to work in these extreme conditions - and then to have to have our government representatives state "things are fine in Vernon Jubilee Hospital." How degrading for the doctors that are trying to get the government’s attention to this crisis situation and then to be disputed by our government representatives who have no medical credentials at all.

 Yes, we are getting the $81 million diagnostic and treatment tower but they aren’t getting the message that we need more beds and operating rooms - that’s like putting the horse before the cart is it not?

I would like to suggest that both of these gentlemen spend a day in our hospital and observe what the doctors and nurses and patients have to put up with. Better still, bring an inflatable bed and put it in the hallway on one of the busy wards, climb into it and see how you feel being on display for all to see.

And maybe get them to hook up the oxygen to each of you because it is obvious that both of you are lacking oxygen to your brains.

Kudos to the Morning Star for their editorial, April 11, on criticism of Mr. Christensen's' remarks.

Beryl Nerling

Blue Divider Line

Plagued by Government
by okanaganlakebc.ca

Regarding the shortage of six doctors in Armstrong and the underfunded code purple Vernon Jubilee Hospital on its way to turning blue. Both hospitals that were in Armstrong and Enderby 25 years ago are no longer being used, and its not like hardly anyone lives in these towns .

Look at all the carbon created driving back and forth from Armstrong and Enderby to Salmon Arm and Vernon. The sustainable government says cut down on your driving and the health government says do more driving. I think government is crazy to be honest, but I guess we have to be crazy too, for allowing things to get this way.

As I have been reading the Vernon Morning Star and other newspapers this past few months, Vernon and Armstrong are not the only ones feeling the effects of health care problems. Government keeps telling us they have doubled spending on health care, well everything has doubled in price and the population has been aging and government knew that the population would aging! How did we get to this point in the first place if government is not mismanaging health care period?

Its obvious we have problems that government doesn't seem to be able to repair. Are we not running out of money because government decisions fund unnecessary water meters, power house theatre, flag poles, etc. I don't need a water meter, a theatre, or a flag pole when I am laying in the hospital, how about you? I will need nothing if I am dead, and this is only one reason why I feel health care should come first!

For all the meetings about health care with the government, and the government still having their blinders on, don't you think its time that we as the people took back some control. I would like to take the govern out of the word government and replace govern with "direct" the public, and the public govern instead. Obviously we are not happy with politicians decisions over health care, are we? Wouldn't you like to tell that Health Minister off??

What about the waste of money spent on the hospital expansion plan of three floors that were planned for atop VJH which extra steam pipes, duct work, electrical and plumbing were all installed for as stated (April 30 Vernon Morning Star Letters "Go UP" by Rob Friesen) a sheet metal worker that helped build the hospital back in 1982 to 1984? Its no wonder we have no money in our pockets.

If you feel that health care comes first before theatre's, water meters, and flag poles, I would suggest everyone take their tax dollars and pay it directly to the doctors and nurses who will know what to do with it. I am sure the doctors and nurses will not think to purchase a water meter or theatre before a hospital or an MRI machine!

We got into this problem because of government in the first place and they don't seem to want to fix it, or it would be getting fixed, they just want to argue about it.

For years now we have been plagued with problems at VJH and not just this year. I have read about code purple at VJH years ago already. I wouldn't be reading about code purple in the newspapers for so long, if the government wasn't into arguing more so than fixing! I want the doctors and nurses to help decide where my money gets spent and not Health Minister George Abbott or IHA.

One thing is for sure, and that is we desperately need change in the way government is permitted to govern because they don't seem to be able to do their job. Like the doctors said, what happens if there is a disease outbreak or something more serious?

The health care problems plaguing us is a serious problem, and not something to sneeze at!

Blue Divider Line

Physicians speak out
May 04, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Over the past several weeks, considerable press attention has been directed toward the continuous code purple status at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.  

Despite the hospital running at constant overcapacity, Interior Health Authority insists that patient care is not suffering and that treatment is business as usual in Vernon.  Recent problems of overcapacity at VJH have been attributed to a local “flu outbreak” by IHA management. 

IHA statements to the contrary, we the VJH emergency physicians’ group would like to go on record voicing our grave concerns with the current situation at our hospital.  We believe there is a clear misrepresentation of the dire state of our local hospital by IHA.  On a daily basis, we are faced with the potential for harm to patients as a direct result of our local shortage of acute care beds.

When a code purple or gridlock situation is called in the hospital, our department is so full of admitted patients that it can no longer function effectively.  Due to a lack of acute care beds, admitted patients who cannot be transferred from the emergency department end up as admitted patients in the emergency department.  In recent weeks, we have held as many as 19 admitted patients in our emergency department stretchers. The result of so many admitted patients occupying emergency department beds is that treatment cubicles are unavailable for newly arrived patients. 

Patients instead are forced to sit in the waiting room or on an ambulance gurney while they wait for ever scarcer emergency department treatment cubicles to open up. We are forced to examine patients in hallways and on ambulance stretchers to try to initiate care. Our trauma room is filled with ill medical patients and not immediately available to take in critically injured trauma patients. It is difficult to get anyone who is not critically ill into the department at all.  Continuous hospital overcapacity is without a doubt unfavourably impacting patient care.

April is traditionally one of our slowest months in the emergency department, yet despite this fact, code purple was called 14 times between March 27 and April 15.  As we approach our summer season with its surging tourist population, we have serious concerns about our hospital’s ability to cope with its expected up-tick in visits. 

Current lack of capacity makes us shudder at the thought of a significant infectious disease outbreak or disaster in our community.  Indeed, we have little room to accommodate any unforeseen large-scale events, as we are struggling to cope with the present number of emergency room visits.    

What we need to lead us out of our completely preventable local health care crisis are more acute care beds. 

We need additional permanently funded acute care beds now and planned additional acute care beds for the future.  We propose two solutions: 1. that acute care beds should immediately be added throughout the hospital and 2. that an acute care floor be added into the future diagnostic and treatment tower project. 

Only then can we move forward to providing safer patient care. 

As your local emergency physicians, we feel compelled to share our concerns with you. We ask concerned local citizens to contact their local MLA, Tom Christensen, and their health minister, George Abbott, by telephone and letter to insist on increased numbers of acute care beds at VJH.

Vernon Jubilee Hospital
Emergency Department Physicians

Blue Divider Line

Officials dispute physician’s claims
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 04, 2008

The Interior Health Authority denies charges that a lack of surgical funding is putting patients at risk.

Dr. Hamish Hwang, a surgeon, wrote a letter to Vernon Jubilee Hospital officials Tuesday claiming a $2 million shortfall in funding for surgical supplies affects the quality of care for patients.

However, IHA refutes that suggestion.

“This number is misrepresented. He was told the shortfall is about $1 million and operating rooms across IH have operating shortfalls because of increased costs,” said Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer.

“We don’t refuse anyone the care that they need.”

Konnert points out that VJH has done 200 to 300 more surgical cases in the past year, and the waitlist has been reduced by 340 cases.

“We have cared for more patients than previous years.”

Konnert says IHA always looks at ways to increase resources for surgical services, but those needs must be balanced off with the financial demands of other departments.

A major challenge has been the increased cost of supplies, as well as the introduction of more technology.

“As we become more sophisticated in technology, the supplies related to that are expensive,” said Konnert.

In his letter, Hwang says the surgical budget has not increased since 2001.

“The people of the North Okanagan and Shuswap deserve access to modern surgical care, including shoulder surgery and laparoscopic surgery, but by not funding our surgical program adequately, it seems that this is not a priority,” he said.

“For example our hospital is the only regional hospital without its own laparoscopic ultrasonic dissector, a mandatory instrument to perform laparoscopic colon and other surgeries safely. We have been borrowing a generator, flown in from Ontario for every case.”

Hwang goes on to say that physicians have a duty to provide the best possible care for patients, including using modern techniques.

“Failing to fund equipment like this (ultrasonic dissector) decreases the safety and quality of patient care and this is only one example.”

Blue Divider Line

Armstrong still striving for funds to fix doctor shortage
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - May 04, 2008

A rural retention bonus aimed at luring doctors to small communities is still putting Armstrong at a competitive disadvantage according to Mayor Jerry Oglow.

While the Ministry of Health has maintained that a contract that sees Armstrong fall one kilometre short of qualifying for the bonus cannot be renegotiated soon, Oglow told his council Monday that the city shouldn’t stop lobbying to have the situation resolved.

“I still believe that if we were able to resolve the anomalies in that program that affect us, it would go a long way to resolve the problem,” said Oglow.

The problem he refers to is a shortage of doctors that has raised emotions in the community.

Oglow said that the city should continue lobbying both the province and the B.C. Medical Association to fix the bonus so it applies to doctors practising in Armstrong.

“I really think there could be a longer-term solution to our problem here on the financial side if we could affect some change,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister George Abbott has clarified a “collaborative primary care model” being considered as a solution to Armstrong’s problem.

“It involves not just physicians but also nurses, nurse educators, nurse practitioners, physicians and often these collaboratives are aimed particularly at addressing the needs of chronic illnesses like type-two diabetes or chronic conditions,” Abbott told The Morning Star.

“The object of these collaborative models is to take some of the pressure off physicians,” he said. “Physicians don’t have to be diabetes educators for example.”

Abbott has told Oglow that the province is looking at trying such an integrated model, which is already in place in several medium-sized cities, in a smaller community and that Armstrong could be a destination.

Blue Divider Line

Victoria fuels funding crisis
May 02, 2008 Vernon Morning Star

Okanagan College and the Vernon School District are two separate institutions, but inadequate provincial funding has placed them in a common situation.

Both the district and the college have had to dip into precious reserves or surpluses just to balance their 2008/09 budgets. But while financial trouble has been avoided this time, it’s just around the corner and tough decisions will be required in subsequent years.

In the case of the school district, those reserve funds will have to be replenished and the reasons for a $1.8 million shortfall this year will likely still exist, if not be worse, in 2009/10 and beyond.

And the primary reason for the financial woes is provincial mismanagement. Because enrolment has dropped, the Ministry of Education is providing less cash to the district, but the cost of business climbs. And many of those expenses are provincially mandated, whether it is contracts with staff or the new carbon tax which will make it more expensive to fuel up a bus.

At Okanagan College, a $900,000 shortfall arose after the Ministry of Advanced Education changed its funding formula mid-stream. The college had developed a budget based on what it had expected, and the new guidelines forced them back to the drawing board at the 11th hour.

As with the school district, Okanagan College is also seeing costs rise because of provincial policy but not getting any monetary assistance in return.

With surpluses and reserves gone, neither agency is able to plan for the future and provide expanded services for students and that is unfortunate.

It is time for the provincial government to realize that it is creating a crisis in education.

Blue Divider Line

Don’t let public hospital fall into private hands
April 27, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News - Letters

To the editor:

I found it interesting that Interior Health Authority was quick to cancel off-site patient surgeries when the rates for the next year rose 20 per cent (Interior Health Cancels Contract With Private Clinic, April 9 Capital News), yet is quite comfortable to sign away control of Kelowna General Hospital’s trades and maintenance services—and not just the new public-private partnership (P3) ambulatory care building.

The IHA will do this knowing that if plant and maintenance services are contracted out, it will be 30 years before the health authority can regain control over them—and long-serving, experienced and dedicated staff will be lost. In the meantime, the risk of uncontrolled maintenance costs is a reality for the next three decades. That’s quite a legacy to leave our children and grandchildren.

Looking at the larger picture, the IHA can learn about P3s from the Fraser Health Authority’s experience with its new P3 hospital. The project had exceeded the original budget before the first spade of dirt was turned and now they’re locked into payments to the private sector consortium for 30 years.

And consider this: The Abbotsford project has been bought and sold twice already, going from the original consortium financial partner, Dutch bank ABN-Amro to Australia-based Macquarie to Britain’s John Laing PLC, where its currently remains.

KGH is Kelowna’s hospital, owned by British Columbians as part of our public health care system.

The IHA should expand it so that it stays in the hands of citizens. Do you wish to be met at the door of Emergency by a greeter asking if you will be paying the building surcharge with VISA or Master card today before they allow the health team to access your condition?

My message to the health authority is: Build the building and serve the public interest; don’t pay costs, with interest, to private corporations for generations to come.

J Delray,

Kelowna

Reference:
http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2007/
Kelowna_Vernon_Hospitals_Capital_Project_Plan_April_2007.pdf

Blue Divider Line

Regional District of Central Okanagan
Central Okanagan Hospital District Budget

Highlights of the Special Regional Board Meeting– March 28, 2008
The Regional Hospital District Board is comprised of the members of the Regional District Board. It meets as required for decisions on tax requisitions and funding of major health-related capital projects and equipment. The Regional Hospital District contributes 40% towards these approved projects. At the March 28th special meeting, the Regional Hospital District Board approved the Five Year Financial Plan, including the 2008 Budget of $15.7 million. For a home assessed at $456,000 ($316,000 in 2007) the contribution to the Regional Hospital District is $110.96, up $5.23 from 2007.

Blue Divider Line

George Abbott should try being a patient in our emergency department any night of the week.  We have stretchers in the halls, and overflowing waiting room, with some patients waiting on the floor or standing, a a two or three-hour wait list, just be sure your problem isn't life threatening.  I am appalled by the lack of concern and compassion by the health ministry.
click letter to read larger print
Snippet:
George Abbott should try being a patient in our emergency department any night of the week.  We have stretchers in the halls, and overflowing waiting room, with some patients waiting on the floor or standing, a a two or three-hour wait list, just be sure your problem isn't life threatening.

I am appalled by the lack of concern and compassion by the health ministry.

Blue Divider Line

City rallies behind petition to heal health care
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 30, 2008

The City of Vernon is officially lending its support to a petition targeting improved health care in the region.

Council unanimously voted Monday to make space available at city hall for a petition demanding increased provincial resources for Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“It shows the health minister and the Interior Health Authority that there’s lots of support for the hospital in the community,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert. “It’s an issue everyone in the North Okanagan takes seriously.”

The petition, which was started by the Vernon Taxpayers Association, asks the provincial government to increase funding for acute care beds, operating rooms and permanent nursing staff at VJH.

While there was some initial hesitation about setting a precedent for future petitions being displayed at city hall, that issue didn’t arise during the council discussion Monday.

“It’s a public space and if it works as a location, I don’t have a problem with that,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.

It was pointed out, though, that VJH serves not only Vernon, but the entire North Okanagan.

“We should encourage our fellow communities to do likewise,” said Coun. Barry Beardsell.

It was decided by council to write other local communities and ask them to make the petition available in their municipal offices.

The petition has been available at Coldstream’s municipal office for almost a week.

“Spallumcheen and Armstrong are also on board,” said Tony Stamboulieh, association spokesman.

The petition is also available at doctors’ offices, Butcher Boys, the Halina Centre, Towne Cinema, the Falkland General Store, the Lumby Pharmacy, Askew’s in Armstrong, the Enderby Credit Union, North Valley Echo, the Enderby IDA Pharmacy, the Ashton Creek Store, Shepherd's Hardware in Armstrong, the Armstrong Bakery and Pleasant Valley Quilting in Armstrong.

It is also available outside of Buy-Low Foods and the Schubert Centre weather-permitting, and it can be downloaded from vernonblog.blogspot.com.

Blue Divider Line

RE: Eye exam billing. Isn't it nice, they are going to have my $40.00 up front and be reimbursed by B.C. Medical.  Something is wrong.
click article to read larger print
RE: Eye exam billing
Isn't it nice, they are going to have my $40.00 up front and be reimbursed by B.C. Medical.  Something is wrong.

Blue Divider Line

Health minister responds
April 27, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star Letters

I wish to respond to a number of recent articles regarding hospital services in Vernon.

Government is making a significant investment in Vernon Jubilee Hospital, with plans for a more than $80-million diagnostic tower well underway.  About the old tower and taxpayers money being wasted according to one letter to the editor of the Vernon Morning Star who worked on the old tower years ago

The emergency department underwent a recent $1-million upgrade to help bridge the needs until the new project is completed.

I recognize Vernon Jubilee has struggled with recent surges in ER patient demand, and I commend the staff at the hospital for their exceptional efforts to provide the excellent care they do each and every day. 

I have had a number of discussions with MLA Tom Christensen regarding the hospital, and he has been a strong advocate in ensuring the needs of the community are appropriately met as we move forward with the hospital upgrade.

We are working with Interior Health to address the issues that have been raised through a number of strategies, recognizing that the solution is not limited to simply more acute care spaces. 

In fact, there are patients currently in acute care spaces that would be more appropriately cared for in other types of facilities.

That is why 42 new residential care beds will open this summer in nearby Armstrong, and why 66 residential and 24 assisted living units with Kaigo Retirement at Creekside Villa in Vernon will also be opening just a few months from now.

And later this summer, the Vernon Hospice expansion will open six new beds, providing compassionate and specialized care for patients and their families.

I understand that Interior Health and the regional hospital district are exploring options to allow for additional capacity in the future as the region continues to grow.

As is the case in every community, local hospital staff, the health authority and the ministry will continue to review the needs of the community, to address those of today and to plan for the future.

George Abbott,
Minister of health

Blue Divider Line

Council debates petition
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 27, 2008

Residents could soon be signing a petition on health care at Vernon city hall.

It’s anticipated council will decide Monday whether to use city hall as a venue for a petition demanding more resources for Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“The city should really get involved because the community is in terrible straits in regards to the hospital,” said Coun. Barry Beardsell.

The petition, which was started by the Vernon Taxpayers Association, asks the provincial government to increase funding for acute care beds, operating rooms and permanent nursing staff at VJH.

“I fully support residents signing the petition because it puts weight behind us when we talk to the government and the health board about these matters,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

However, Lippert admits there is some reluctance about city hall playing host to petition campaigns.

“Are we setting a precedent where we open up the door for petitions that aren’t appropriate?” he said.

The petition is currently available at the Coldstream municipal office, and Mayor Gary Corner says there was little debate about it there.

“People agree that it would be nice to have better facilities and we are a growing community,” he said.

The petition is also available at doctors’ offices, Butcher Boys, the Halina Centre, Towne Cinema, the Falkland General Store, the Lumby Pharmacy, Askew’s in Armstrong, the Enderby Credit Union, the North Valley Echo, the Enderby IDA Pharmacy and the Ashton Creek Store.

It is also available outside of Buy-Low Foods and the Schubert Centre weather-permitting, and it can be downloaded from vernonblog.blogspot.com.

“The petition seems to have taken on a life of its own,” said Kay Stamboulieh, with the Vernon Taxpayers Association.

Blue Divider Line

Petition requires council support
April 27, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star Opinion

It’s hard to understand why there has to be much debate at Vernon city hall over a petition about conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Making it available to the public is a no brainer.

Especially when you consider that city officials have shown significant leadership in lobbying the provincial government for increased resources at VJH. Getting behind a grassroots petition is just the next step in the evolution process.

There appears to be some concern that permitting this petition to sit on the counter at city hall will set a precedent for future petitions, and particularly those issues that council doesn’t endorse. There is always a chance of that, but if those issues are as significant as conditions at VJH, then they should find a place at city hall.

While Vernon is debating whether to assist the petition organizers, there was little talk in Coldstream. It was deemed to be important to the community there and counter space was found in the municipal office.

But not all of the pressure should be on Vernon because VJH serves the entire North Okanagan. City halls in Lumby, Armstrong, Enderby and Spallumcheen, as well as the regional district, should be getting directly involved and ensuring their residents not only know of the petition, but take action.

Without proper health care facilities, North Okanagan communities will find it challenging to attract new residents or businesses, and tourism marketing might as well be shelved. So much rides on our hospital being the best it can be.

In the end, now is the time for all municipal councils to do the right thing and not be left sitting on the sidelines.

Blue Divider Line

Expansion plan inadequate
April 25, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

The recent public forum conducted at the Schubert Centre, which was led by Dr. Hamish Hwang, presented physician’s concerns regarding the planned Vernon Jubilee Hospital expansion. I am writing to reiterate those concerns.

Expansion of Vernon Jubilee Hospital is great news for the patients as well as the hospital staff. As a physician working at VJH, I am looking forward to the day the wing opens — when we have access to the increased outpatient space and new operating rooms. However, the current proposed expansion is inadequate.

Vernon Jubilee Hospital currently has four operating rooms which cannot provide adequate facility for timely patient elective and emergency care. The current official number of in-hospital beds is 125. There are an additional 16 beds that are not funded and have been opened since last summer, raising the total count to 137. Even with these unfunded beds, the hospital remains over census almost daily and code purple (meaning the hospital is in gridlock and diversions are necessary) is a daily scenario at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Between March 27 and April 16, code purple was called 15 times (15 days of gridlock).

Why is it that the new building that will be erected at VJH will not potentially improve the current situation? The presentation by Dr. Hwang explained many of the potential reasons. The bottom line is simple.

We need additional in-patient hospital beds and an increased number of functioning operating rooms to address the current patient demands let alone plan for the future. While more chronic care beds (non-acute beds) are required and will be made available by the initiatives undertaken by Interior Health Authority (IHA), these alone will not address the daily shortage of acute-care beds encountered. Currently no increase in inpatients beds has been guaranteed. Similarly, the current plan is to open only four operating rooms and one more limited outpatient operating room in the new tower. Physicians are asking for five operating rooms to be opened immediately and provision for further operating room expansion made.

When the Liberal government came into power in B.C., administrative structure of health care distribution in this province was changed.

Small health care regions were amalgamated to form large regional health authorities. In the Interior, multiple health regions were amalgamated under the new structure of IHA. IHA provides health care across a vast geographic area servicing 750,000 people. It manages 34 acute-care hospitals and triple that number of residential care facilities and public health care units.

When IHA region was created, an external consulting firm was hired (Sullivan Consulting) to conduct an operational review of health care service provision. This took place in 2003. As a result of that review, IHA developed a strategic plan to improve health care access across the health region. This included structural review of the facilities as well as functional management of the facilities and, in some cases, centralization or expansion of services.

A waiting list registry was developed and implemented to allow for improved tracking and management of patients waiting for surgery. Neurosurgical program expansion took place at Kelowna and Kamloops hospitals. At VJH, spinal surgery program was funded while at all major hospitals the rate of total joint replacement surgery doubled.

Vascular and thoracic surgery program was created at KGH and in the near future heart surgery will be done in Kelowna as well. These are great accomplishments.

At the same time, it became apparent that many hospitals required expansion of physical space, as well as services. A plan was put forward and carried out in a logical sequence to address these needs.

At Vernon Jubilee Hospital, physician input was sought and group meetings took place between the IHA, consulting architect firms, physicians and other health care workers to come up with a plan for hospital expansion.

This was done in response to structural review of the current physical plant.

A plan was put forth to build a new building which would include additional operating rooms, increased size of emergency room, new outpatient clinics and new paediatric/obstetric hospital ward.

However, the North Okanagan area continued to grow at an unprecedented rate. The planned expansion of the hospital did not account for the increasing volume of aging population.

While the strategic steps for the proposed hospital expansion were taken years ago and will bear fruit in the near future, VJH’s acute-care bed shortage may remain unresolved. IHA has an opportunity to respond to this challenge (as it has to many others since its inception) by increasing the number of acute-care beds and operating rooms as required today.

It can add an additional floor on top of the tower, to be built where the new inpatient hospital ward can be placed. It can open up acute-care beds in the old hospital wing.

Immediate opening of five operating rooms can be planned. But above all, it must acknowledge the current acute-care bed crisis and commit required resources to address it now.

I hope IHA intervenes quickly and incorporates the required changes before the new hospital wing is built. This would insure an immediate improvement of patients’ access to medical care in our community and ensure the future access as well.

It would be a great shame if the $81 million dollar VJH expansion took place only to have patients seen and admitted into hallways and scheduled surgical cases cancelled because of ongoing shortage of acute-care beds and OR space.

Jan B. Splawinski,
Ortho and spinal surgeon,
IHA Surgical Council member

Blue Divider Line

Doctors fear patients will be turned away
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 25, 2008

Doctors fear patient access to Vernon Jubilee Hospital will be restricted if the facility remains over-capacity.

Physicians met with Interior Health Authority officials Tuesday to discuss the fact that there’s been 41 days of code purple (full) at the hospital since Jan. 1.

“The crisis is clearly impacting patient care,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, president of medical staff.

The goal of the meeting was to find some common ground, but doctors claim IHA is looking at extreme options, including restricting access to VJH by patients transferred from nearby hospitals in Salmon Arm and Revelstoke.

“That endangers the health of the patient,” said Dr. Jeff Demetrick, chief of surgery.

One other alternative is to cancel elective surgeries when beds are full at VJH.

However, Demetrick says that would have a devastating impact on patients waiting for surgery, such as hip replacement, and it could force some surgeons to leave town.

“It would decimate the department,” he said.

IHA officials categorically deny any drastic action will be taken.

“The option was offered up but the decision was made not to cancel elective surgeries,” said Cathy Renkas, with IHA communications.

Renkas describes Tuesday’s meeting as a brainstorming session.

“The intent was there be discussion and further discussion about how to alleviate pressures up there,” she said, adding that IHA is doing everything it can to address concerns at VJH.

Doctors have suggested that code purple alerts could be avoided if more acute-care beds were opened up at the hospital.

VJH has 125 funded acute care beds, but there are times where there are 160 patients on site, leading to hallways being used. However, those hallway beds are also often full.

“It became clear that they won’t fund more beds so they want to look at increased efficiencies, but that’s been done to death,” said Demetrick of Tuesday’s talks with IHA.

The apparent reason for not opening more beds, according to Demetrick, is a lack of funding.

“They are dealing with deficit budgets,” he said.

The high number of code purples come at the same time that IHA is planning for a new diagnostic and treatment tower at VJH.

IHA has stated in the past that there is the possibility for shelled-in floor space as part of the tower and it could ultimately be used for beds.

But there has been no commitment of funding from the provincial government, something the physicians insists must happen before construction of the tower begins this year.

“They suggest cancelling more surgeries to alleviate our bed shortage. Is this appropriate for our community?” said Dr. Hamish Hwang, a surgeon who was not at the meeting but who co-authored a report on funding at VJH

The tower won’t open until 2010, and that has physicians demanding action to help with immediate challenges.

“The Ministry of Health needs to step in and provide short-term measures. They need to address funding for staffing and beds,” said Cunningham.

“We need to find answers and we’re open to working with them to find answers.”

On that front, there appears to be agreement with IHA.

“We prefer to work with the physicians to find solutions,” said Renkas.

Blue Divider Line

No funding for doctor’s clinic
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - April 23, 2008

The province will not provide financial support for a doctor’s clinic in Armstrong/Spallumcheen although help with “support services” may be available, the mayors of the two municipalities learned in a meeting with senior Ministry of Health officials Monday.

Armstrong Mayor Jerry Oglow and Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma were told that the community may be eligible to host a pilot project for an integrated primary care model, the details of which are clear to neither mayor.

The initiative, pilot projects for which are underway in Prince George, Abbotsford and White Rock, co-ordinates a practice that, in addition to a physician, would offer support services such as nurse practitioners and other health professionals.

“They also indicated a willingness to do it in a small community and of course, Armstrong is a logical one (in which) to do that,” said Oglow.

“It is essentially support services done on a more regional basis.” The aim is for the services to increase the effectiveness of physicians on the ground.

However, any integrated model would need to benefit the entire North Okanagan, not only Armstrong/Spallumcheen, for the province to be interested, according to Hansma.

Health officials will meet to discuss Armstrong’s potential as a pilot project site further, but it was also made clear to the mayors that Armstrong/Spallumcheen is hardly alone in dealing with a shortage of physicians.

The mayors were told that the province would risk setting a dangerous precedent by subsidizing the overhead costs for a community doctor’s clinic, as local physician Dr. Rick Sherwin had been hoping.

Hansma told his council Monday that the province thinks the business prospects for a private practice in the community remains good and seven physicians have been referred to the area.

“They were quite mystified actually, to say the least, as to why those opportunities were not taken up by those doctors it was presented to,” said Hansma.

He said the province believes that the ongoing emotional debate within the community may have turned off some of the potential physicians.

The province, however, did offer hope that a deadline of April 30 for a potential local physician to accept a $100,000 incentive bonus for setting up practice in Armstrong may not be written in stone, said Hansma.

Blue Divider Line

Locations established for hospital petition
Vernon Morning Star - April 20, 2008

“The association urges people to sign and circulate the petition.”

— Stamboulieh

Locations have been announced for residents wanting to sign a petition about Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

A petition demanding increased resources at the hospital can be signed at medical clinics, doctors’ offices, Butcher Boys, the Falkland General Store and the Coldstream municipal office.

“More locations throughout the North Okanagan-Shuswap are to come,” said Tony Stamboulieh, spokesman for the Vernon Taxpayers Association, which has spearheaded the campaign.

“The association urges people to sign and circulate the petition to Gordon Campbell’s government to increase funding for acute care beds, operating rooms and permanent nursing staff.”

The association is concerned about the number of code purple incidents at VJH.

“It means there are too many patients who need the 125 acute care beds and that means not only the beds, but all the staff that care for the patients in those beds,” said Stamboulieh.

“At VJH, code purple is a more than frequent state with the average patients in acute care beds per day being 132.”

Individuals and businesses are currently being sought to circulate the petition throughout the North Okanagan.

For more information about the petition, call 260-1082 or e-mail antonystam "at" shaw.ca.

Blue Divider Line

Mayors meeting with minister
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - April 18, 2008

The mayors of Armstrong and Spallumcheen will meet with provincial Health Minister George Abbott and a senior deputy minister Monday to review possible solutions to the community’s doctor shortage.

Armstrong Mayor Jerry Oglow says he hopes the ministry can come up with a long-term solution that will be able to attract and, vitally, retain physicians.

“Whatever solution we arrive at has to be sustainable and has to be for the long-term,” he told his council Monday. “The issue is really complicated. There is no quick solution, nor should we be looking for a quick solution, in my opinion.”

Oglow said it has become apparent the community needs a made-in-Armstrong solution, albeit one that does not conflict with the Canada Health Act or the ministry’s other policies.

After a recent meeting with Abbott, both Oglow and Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma said the ministry has become more receptive to the idea of establishing a primary health care model in Armstrong, possibly in the form of a clinic.

Hansma hopes the meeting will clarify the ministry’s intentions.

“I’m kind of hoping that we’re going to be able to determine what type of a clinic we’re going to get,” said Hansma. “I’m pleased the meeting was called so quickly and Abbott understands the deadlines.

“Now it’s just a matter of seeing what George has come up with and seeing if we can make it work in Armstrong and Spallumcheen.”

Blue Divider Line

Group applying for non-profit status
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - April 18, 2008

A group of concerned Armstrong and Spallumcheen residents is hoping official status as a non-profit organization will help efforts to resolve the community’s doctor shortage.

The group, which is supporting a multi-physician clinic for the communities, has decided to seek charitable status and to call itself the Haugen Community Healthcare Society in honour of Dr. Ragnvald (Roy) Haugen, a physician who served the Armstrong area from 1939 to 1971.

The society is hoping to promote timely access to primary care services, promote health and wellness and continue Haugen’s legacy of health care leadership.

“We are bound and determined to ensure Armstrong and Spallumcheen is not left like other communities in B.C. that have been left without doctors,” said spokesperson Nick Watkins.

The group hopes a meeting between the mayors of Armstrong and Spallumcheen and Minister of Health officials Monday will result in funding for a clinic in the community. If it does not, Watkins said status as a non-profit will enable the group to raise money to try and support such a clinic within the community.

Anybody with donations or other support to offer can call Nick at 546-3731.

Blue Divider Line

ER capacity forces patient out
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 18, 2008

Doctors argue that unsafe conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital are escalating.

Physicians claim there is a severe shortage of acute care beds and as an example, they point to a situation where a patient with acute appendicitis had to be transferred to Salmon Arm’s hospital because VJH was over-capacity.

“I was told that if I operated on that patient, after already operating on three other emergencies that night, that there would be absolutely no space in the hospital to deal with any other serious emergencies,” said Dr. Hamish Hwang, a surgeon, in a letter to officials.

“For a regional hospital serving over 130,000 people not to be able to deal with a patient with acute appendicitis, a common and basic disease, this is a terrible state of affairs.”

Hwang goes on to write that by Tuesday morning, VJH was at code purple status and 30 per cent over-capacity at 161 patients.

“The facilities at VJH are no longer able to provide safe and timely medical and surgical care to the citizens of the North Okanagan and Shuswap,” he said.

Dr. Jeff Demetrick, chief of surgery, isn’t surprised by what happened Monday.

“We are seeing these situations more often,” he said, adding that it becomes a question of what is less dangerous patients — being put in a hall or sent to another facility.

“It happens more often where we need to balance these things out.”

The Interior Health Authority admits there has been significant pressure on VJH over the last three weeks, with part of it the result of the flu and other ailments.

Peter Du Toit, administrator, makes no apologies for patients being sent to other hospitals.

“IHA has a network of hospitals to ensure that if a patient has to be moved to get care, they can,” he said.

“If we are full and a procedure can be done safely at Salmon Arm, we have the ability to do that.”

Du Toit also insists that actions are being taken to improve the number of acute care beds at VJH, including through the opening of residential care beds in the community.

“We are dealing with it but the capacity is above capacity at this time,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Notices handed to VJH employees
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 18, 2008

Upgrades at Vernon Jubilee Hospital have created uncertainty for some employees.

Forty-four workers in the Alexander residential care wing have been handed displacement notices because the structure will be demolished to make way for a new $81 million diagnostic and treatment tower.

“There are options for the employees to act upon. It’s different than a layoff notice,” said Donna Lommer, with the Interior Health Authority’s residential services program.

Alexander wing has played home to 49 seniors as a new 66-unit facility was being built in Vernon.

“The folks hired knew it was a temporary facility,” said Lommer.

The impacted workers include 38 members of the Hospital Employees Union, three from the B.C. Nurses Union and three from the Health Sciences Association of B.C.

Six months notice has been given and options for employment will be investigated.

Lommer is confident that most of 44 staff will stay within IHA.

“Our experience at other sites is there aren’t people without jobs at the end of the day,” she said.

“With an organization of our size, there is attrition or people may decide to retire.”

The new Creekside Landing facility will open in May and Alexander wing will close its doors at the end of June.

Discussions have also been held with the residents of Alexander wing and their families as to where they will move.

In many cases they may be relocated to Creekside Landing, or they may go to other existing facilities when space becomes available.

“We give people a choice of where they want to live,” said Lommer.

Construction of the diagnostic and treatment tower is expected to begin by early summer, with the facility open in 2010.

Blue Divider Line

Hospital petition support spreading
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star - April 16, 2008

More pressure is being added to mend wounds in the form of a bed shortage at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Coldstream council is jumping on board and is encouraging its residents to sign the public petition, which will be available at the municipal office.

The support follows a public health care forum put on by local doctors last week.

Doctors Hamish Hwang and Chris Cunningham say funding levels at VJH aren’t where they should be for a hospital that is consistently over capacity.

“We are the only hospital over capacity every single day,” said Hwang at the forum.

Therefore more beds are being sought in the new diagnostic and treatment tower, which construction begins on this year.

“If they were able to change some of the building and planning now to encourage more beds in the long term we’d probably save money and do a better job,” said Coun. Mary Malerby. “But they only have a small little window before the building is confirmed, before the planning is confirmed.”

To add pressure to the provincial government demanding funding equity at VJH, a petition has been started by the Vernon Taxpayers Association. Anyone interested in helping distribute the petition is asked to call 260-1082 or e-mail antonystam@shaw.ca.

The District of Coldstream is encouraging its residents to sign on with their support at the municipal office, where the petition will be available.

Blue Divider Line

Walk-in clinics restricted
April 16, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

Several years ago walk-in clinics appeared in various communities throughout B.C. This disturbed many family physicians as they were concerned about the impact this might have on their practices.

They pressured the Section of General Practice of the BC Medical Association to address this issue. Consequently, the association decided to limit the number of patients seen per day by general practitioners in private practice or walk-in clinics.

The limitation number chosen was designed to not affect most family doctors in regular office practice.

Visits made outside the office such as the hospital or care facilities were not included in this limitation.

Northern and isolated communities were also exempt. However, because of our local shortage of doctors we have been functionally under serviced.

If a family physician moves or retires and closes their office, the ‘orphaned’ patients have no alternative, at this time, but to use the services of a walk-in clinic. Because of these limitations, our walk-in clinic frequently surpasses the number of patients we are allowed to see.

We receive no income for these extra patients yet we still incur the expenses of keeping the clinic open.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find physicians to assist with the hours we provide.

Therefore, at our clinic, we are being forced to reduce our hours of operations at a time when Vernon’s growth is evident and the shortage of family physicians is becoming a distressing reality.

We would urge the public who feel strongly about this important issue to write letters asking those limitations be removed.

Write to:

Mr. Tom Christensen (Local MLA)
206-3334-30 Ave
Vernon, B.C.
VIT 2C8

Mr. George Abbott (Provincial Minister of Health)
202 -371 St. NE
Box 607
Salmon Arm, B.C.
V1E 4N7

Section of General Practice to the BCMA
115-1665 West Broadway
Vancouver, B.C.
V6J 5A4

Dr. David Powter, Dr. William Fair,
Dr. David Edwards, Dr. Robert Sawatzky

Blue Divider Line

This is one sure fire way to cut down on hospital stays and government not spend as much money...smokers will be checking out of hospitals before they are ready to go home and some may not check in all together if they can help it.

Where is revenue going to come from when taxes on cigarette and tobacco sales start to decline??

What will government have to do when all the smokers quit smoking and live longer requiring more healthcare and more hospital visits?

Smoking ban nears for hospital patients
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 13, 2008

SMOKING WILL soon be banned at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Vernon Jubilee Hospital patients and staff will soon have to trudge across the road if they want to light up.

As of May 31, all Interior Health Authority hospitals and facilities will become smoke-free.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. For the health authority, it’s the right thing to do,” said Les Baas, director of population health.

If patients or staff insist on smoking, they will have to leave the property.

“All patients will be told of the smoking policy and any patient will have access to free nicotine therapy and intervention therapy,” said Baas.

Baas admits there is a concern about patient safety if they leave the property in various states of medical condition.

“Ultimately it’s their decision, and as it is now, we have patients leaving the property for various reasons.”

There are a few things patients can do now to prepare for the May 31 policy.

They include calling 1-877-455-2233 for information on how to stop using tobacco, and visiting www.actnowbc.gov.bc.ca for tip sheets on smoking cessation.

Patients should also talk to their doctor about medications and supports available to help quit smoking.

There will be exemptions to the IHA policy for three specific groups — mental health patients, palliative care and residential care.

Individuals in those three areas can apply for permission to smoke outdoors.

However, Baas says there is no guarantee that anyone in those three categories will be allowed to smoke.

“It’s a rigorous process and the goal is not to have smoking.”

Blue Divider Line

Vernon woman to sit on IHA board
April 13, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

A Vernon resident has been appointed to the Interior Health Authority’s board of directors.

Virginia Goodings has recently retired from the Canadian public service after more than 30 years.

She worked in a variety of departments in the field of human resource management, including the prime minister’s office, the treasury board and Environment Canada.

Goodings was also head of human resources with the Commonwealth Secretariat in Britain.

Also recently appointed to the IHA board is David Gillespie of Kamloops. He is a retired lawyer and past chairman of the B.C. Automobile Association.

He is currently a director of the B.C. Lottery Corporation.

Blue Divider Line

Throughout the years, I have been asked if I volunteer as the executive director for the PIN Crisis Intervention Society.
April 13, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

Who Does Pay?

Throughout the years, I have been asked if I volunteer as the executive director for the PIN Crisis Intervention Society.

This always brings a smile to my face, while at the same time, it is probably accompanied by a look of dread. That look comes from the knowledge of what it takes to keep a not-for-profit organization functioning.

Of course one of the “biggies” is funding, and through talking with people I have come to realize that many people are not aware of how our programs are funded.

This comes to mind when someone inquiring about the Good Morning Program call us, they will often ask what it costs to receive the daily calls and are surprised when we tell them that there is no charge.

The Good Morning Program is funded by our local United Way providing 31 per cent of the total revenue, while the remaining funds are provided through gaming.

Clearly without that support the program would be in jeopardy, as would the Suicide Prevention Program which receives 24 per cent of its funding from the United Way. Therefore, the support of donations to the United Way is gratefully appreciated by agencies such as ours. Another significant source of funding is the Interior Health Authority (Mental Health) who generously contributes 80 per cent to the operation of the Crisis Line.

Gaming dollars are responsible for the majority of our volunteer training program and through its trained volunteers that our program runs so efficiently; there are people who care about those they serve.

The results are those in need of the services benefit from direct and timely service. In a nutshell, that is the essence of how social service agencies are able to exist; through the support of stakeholders (such as government) and throughout the heart of the community - those who see a need and are able to donate their hard earned cash to the United Way or an organization - or their precious time.

Sharon Durrant

Blue Divider Line

VJH petition hits the streets
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 13, 2008

The public fight over Vernon Jubilee Hospital has been launched.

The Vernon Taxpayers Association is calling on North Okanagan residents and groups to volunteer their time to circulate a petition demanding funding equity at VJH.

“VJH is the only regional hospital that is over capacity every day and it’s the only hospital without an MRI machine,” said Tony Stamboulieh, spokesman.

Anyone interested in helping distribute the petition is asked to call 260-1082 or e-mail antonystam@shaw.ca.

Details on where petitions can be signed will be announced next week.

Stamboulieh believes it makes sense for his organization to get directly involved in the issue of funding and resources at VJH.

“We are all potential clients of the hospital and as good Canadians, health care is at the top of the agenda for us,” he said.

“It seems like nothing is happening so we need to get together as citizens.”

Stamboulieh is confident that municipal councils throughout the North Okanagan-Shuswap will get directly involved in the petition and pushing for changes at VJH.

“The day may come where they (councillors) may find themselves in a closest because there’s no room in the hospital for them,” he said.

Wayne Lippert, Vernon mayor, is pleased to see the petition.

“It will let the minister know our residents are deeply concerned about this,” he said.

During a recent interview, Okanagan Vernon MLA Tom Christensen denied VJH is being treated differently than other hospitals.

Christensen also pointed out that considerable money has been invested at VJH, including $81 million for a treatment and diagnostic tower.

“It’s a simplistic view to look at one hospital without looking at the system as a whole,” he said.

However, Stamboulieh believes Christensen is not representing the interests of local residents.

“It’s very simplistic of Mr. Christensen to ignore the very real concerns of citizens about their health care,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Hospital requires team approach
April 13, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

Politics make for strange bedfellows, and no other situation may highlight that more than Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The Vernon Taxpayers Association has launched a petition demanding more operating funds for VJH, and that move has the support of City of Vernon officials, traditionally the primary target of association members.

But this odd pairing demonstrates the reality that is VJH. No matter your religion, age, colour, education or financial status, the hospital accepts us all. Whether you call Vernon, Cherryville, Armstrong, Salmon Arm, Grindrod or another community home, it is our hospital.

In fact, it is partly because of the wide population base that VJH serves, that it’s facing significant challenges. While most Shuswap and Revelstoke residents are referred to VJH, the province directs funding for them to Kamloops’ hospital, not Vernon.

It is inequities like this, and others such as a lack of acute care beds, that must be addressed.

But conditions will only improve if rank-and-file citizens challenge the provincial government and its funding formula.

We would encourage all North Okanagan-Shuswap residents to get directly involved in the campaign launched by the Vernon Taxpayers Association.

Volunteer to canvas petitions door-to-door, write letters to MLAs George Abbott and Tom Christensen and, most importantly, sign your name to the petition.

Provincial officials have ignored doctors and local municipalities to date, so now is the time for residents to make some noise.

And if you are reluctant to get involved, remember that VJH is always there for you.

Blue Divider Line

Doctor campaign expands
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 11, 2008

The fight to find more doctors is going regional.

The North Okanagan Regional District board agreed Wednesday to work with the Interior Health Authority in trying to recruit physicians and other health care professionals.

“It’s a very legitimate request to partner to promote our region,” said Jerry Oglow, NORD chairman and Armstrong mayor.

That decision came after a presentation from IHA officials.

“Canada ranks dead last in physician supply,” said Cathy Stashyn, leader of physician recruitment.

“The time has come to address the crisis.”

With other provinces and regions also vying for doctors, Stashyn is convinced that the North Okanagan must work together to address its current and long-term needs.

“We really want to sell the Interior and the opportunities here,” she said.

And she insists that the North Okanagan’s lifestyle will help draw some doctors here.

“The community sells the community. They look for the advantages we have.”

Stashyn pushed NORD to establish a single Web site portal for physicians and other health care professionals and to work with IHA on recruiting efforts.

“We want to make sure the sales message is the right one,” she said.

Other issues that will be looked at is developing a brochure that sells the north Okanagan to doctors, as well as a candidate mail-out package.

“Be the welcoming committee to health professionals who knock on your door,” said Stashyn.

There was unanimous support among NORD members to get involved in trying to bring more doctors to the region.

“We’ve been struggling in Lumby and Cherryville (to recruit physicians) so let’s make sure it’s regional,” said Eric Foster, a director and Lumby mayor.

Blue Divider Line

Residents rally to relieve cramped conditions
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 11, 2008

North Okanagan residents will take pen to paper to fight for their hospital.

A petition campaign will be launched to demand that the provincial government increase resources at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, including acute care beds and nursing staff.

“It will be a regional effort,” said Kay Stamboulieh, with the Vernon Taxpayers Association, which will spearhead the effort.

“We can get everyone behind this,” she said.

Details of the campaign are still being worked out, but it’s anticipated the petition will be available soon.

And based on the 200 people crammed into a public meeting on health care Tuesday, the petition may have widespread support.

“Get to our MLA. He’s the man we have to go after,” said Hazel Stinson, one of many residents who spoke about the need for improved conditions at VJH.

Barry Beardsell, a Vernon councillor, endorses the public rallying behind the petition.

“The city has tried to get the attention of the health minister but it has not produced any indication of new beds,” he said.

Beardsell believes the city should help promote the petition because of the importance of VJH.

“This is a vital service to our community,” he said.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham was pleased to see the large turnout at the forum.

“It shows that people are concerned,” she said.

Information on how to contact George Abbott, Shuswap MLA and health minister, was made available during the forum.

“We need to pressure the government,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, president of VJH medical staff and one of the organizers of the meeting.

“If we have the support of you (public) here, we might be able to enlighten the government of the needs.”

Tom Christensen, Okanagan Vernon MLA, was not at the meeting, but he is aware of the petition campaign.

“They are welcome to do that. But I hope anyone interested in health care will look at the broader picture and not think that the single issue of beds is the only answer,” he said, adding that the government has invested millions in health care facilities and training new nurses.

Blue Divider Line

Doctors prescribe additional hospital beds
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 11, 2008

Physicians warn that Vernon Jubilee Hospital is headed for crisis unless immediate action is taken.

In an unprecedented move, medical staff hosted a forum about health care Tuesday at the Schubert Centre, with the event attracting about 200 people.

“I’ve never worked at a hospital where there’s more patients than beds every day,” said Dr. Hamish Hwang, a surgeon and co-author of a report looking at funding levels and service at VJH compared to other similar facilities.

VJH has 125 funded acute care beds, but Hwang says there are times where there are 160 patients on site, leading to code purple — capacity — situations.

“When they don’t have a bed, we make due and put them in hallways. Without these beds in halls and several other places, the hospital wouldn’t be able to run.”

Using IHA figures, the report by Hwang and Dr. Chris Cunningham looked at VJH compared to regional hospitals in Penticton, Trail and Cranbrook.

“We are the only hospital over capacity every single day,” said Hwang.


He went on to say that elective surgeries are cancelled if beds are full.

“Family doctors and specialists are constantly under pressure to discharge patients (to free up space).”

Another concern is that VJH has four operating rooms.

“Trail has five ORs and the volume of in-patient surgeries is far less,” said Hwang, adding that four ORs cannot keep pace with demand and wait times grow.

“Without more ORs, more specialists cannot be hired.”

Hwang believes that one of the problems is that the Ministry of Health funds Kamloops’ hospital for patients from Salmon Arm and Revelstoke, while most referrals from those areas are directed to VJH.

“It boils down to practicality and the fact that Vernon is closer,” he said.

Construction will begin this year on a diagnostic and treatment tower but Hwang insists it should include increased acute care beds or operating rooms.

“On opening day in 2010, the $81 million facility will already be obsolete,” he said.

The physicians are calling for the new tower to be amended to take into account current and future needs of the community.

They would like 140 to 160 acute care beds now, and an immediate increase in operating rooms to five now and seven by 2022.

Interior Health Authority officials say there is the possibility for shelled-in floor space as part of the tower that could ultimately be used for beds and those discussions are being held with the provincial government.

“There will be continual lobbying,” said Dr. Tom Ward, medical director for the Okanagan.

He went on to say that there’s a lack of acute care beds across the country and catch-up is underway.

“The pressures the doctors are speaking about are absolutely true,” he said, adding that action has been taken to open residential care beds in the community as a way of freeing up acute care spaces at VJH.

Tom Christensen, Okanagan Vernon MLA, denies VJH is being shortchanged.

“The health authority tells us that’s not the case and that VJH is bring treated equitably,” he said.

Christensen added that considerable money has been invested in health care at VJH, as well as at other facilities used by local residents.

“It’s a simplistic view to look at one hospital without looking at the system as a whole.”

Blue Divider Line

MLA must get with program
April 11, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

One has to wonder when was the last time Okanagan Vernon MLA Tom Christensen was at Vernon Jubilee Hospital for something other than photo-ops?

If he or a loved one had been admitted for a serious health issue and then parked in a hallway, perhaps he would be a little more sympathetic about conditions at the primary health centre for the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Instead, Christensen toes the party line and refers to the $81 million being spent on a new diagnostic and treatment tower.

And certainly that investment is appreciated, but keep in mind that 40 per cent of that $81 million is actually coming from local residents through property taxes. It’s not all of Victoria’s cash Christensen is taking credit for.

It is increasingly evident that VJH is inadequately funded compared to other hospitals and can’t keep pace with population growth.

Government officials like to challenge the doctors who have put figures out indicating a crisis at VJH. But keep in mind that the statistics used are from the Interior Health Authority itself, and who should the public believe — doctors who are on the frontlines every day or bureaucrats far removed from the situation?

Instead of just listening to IHA and the Ministry of Health, Christensen needs to place more credence on the information coming from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. And he should also pay attention to the 200 people who crowded into a forum Tuesday.

The fact that so many people gave up their own time to attend a meeting should speak volumes.

It is time for Christensen to take the situation at VJH seriously.

Blue Divider Line

Three headlines regarding a shortage of healthcare in Armstrong BC in the Armstrong Advertiser April 9, 2008

Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma is optimistic after meeting with Health Minister George Abbott

&

Armstrong Realtors join to support health clinic in Armstrong BC

&

Activity Centre supports clinic
Front page of the Armstrong Advertiser April 9, 2008 regarding doctor shortage in Armstrong BC
click page to read larger print
Front page of the Armstrong Advertiser April 9, 2008.
The following article is the second part to this first article and so on.

pool project in limbo continued....

Meeting with Abbott optimistic
article page 7 of the Armstrong Advertiser April 9, 2008
continued from front page above.

&
photo of the Armstrong Healthcare Auxillary members who volunteer operation of the loans cupboard at Hassen arena along with information on dates and times the medical loans cupboard is open.

Armstrong optimistic about healthcare after meeting with Health Minister George Abbott
click article to read larger print

Armstrong Realtors join to support Health Clinic in Armstrong BC (part 2)
Realtors support health clinic in Armstrong article April 9, 2008 from the Armstrong Advertiser.
click article to read larger print
this is page 5 continued from front page of the Armstrong Advertiser April 9, 2008 above.  Realtors support health clinic in Armstrong above.

Blue Divider Line

Dr. Simon Lewin is a new Armstrong BC doctor starting March 2008
Dr Simon Lewin is a new doctor starting up private practice in Armstrong March 2008.

Blue Divider Line

Region recruiting for more doctors
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 09, 2008

North Okanagan communities are being asked to get directly involved in luring new physicians to the region.

Interior Health Authority officials will ask the North Okanagan Regional District board today to partner when it comes to marketing the area for doctor recruitment.

“We are looking for opportunities to market the entire North Okanagan,” said Peter Du Toit, IHA’s local administrator.

Du Toit says there are no specific requests being made of NORD, and IHA has no specific expectations.

“It’s merely exploratory. We have nothing in mind yet,” he said.

But Du Toit points out that IHA has launched campaigns to market the North Okanagan in an attempt to attract more physicians, while most communities have economic development initiatives to promote themselves.

“We go to conferences they aren’t at, and they go to conferences we aren’t at,” he said.

Du Toit is hopeful North Okanagan politicians will want to get involved.

“We are all part of the same community,” he said.

Jerry Oglow, Armstrong mayor and NORD chairman, is extremely familiar with the issue being raised by IHA.

“We are in trying times with low physician levels across the country,” he said, adding that Armstrong-Spallumcheen is currently facing a shortage of doctors.

As a result, Oglow does see a role for jurisdictions to become more active in recruitment.

“Whatever we can do to attract physicians here, it is important to work towards that end,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

People power pushes forward
April 09, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

In February, Health Minister – and Shuswap MLA – George Abbott swore by the incentive packages his government had laid out to entice doctors to communities feeling the physician pinch.

Two months later and Abbott seems to have realized that incentives alone won’t solve the underlying problems discouraging doctors from setting up shop in cities like Armstrong.

The ministry is now promising to look at the available options and return to local officials with potential solutions. One option that, at this point, seems to be on the table is that of a multi-physician clinic.

Abbott is late in recognizing that there are no easy fixes to the doctor’s shortage. But after having tried to wash himself of the situation, he deserves credit for wading back into the fray to try to solve Armstrong and Spallumcheen’s problem.

The mayors of the two municipalities have also been proactive in pushing for a solution and deserve kudos as well.

But it’s the residents of what is really one community who deserve most of the credit. Rather than sit on the sidelines, Armstrong/Spallumcheen residents offered up ideas, time, voices and cold hard cash to try and resolve the situation.

Their work – which needs to continue – was impossible to ignore and demonstrated just how important this issue is to local residents.

The residents raised a racket loud enough to be heard in Victoria.

A solution may, or may not, be on the way. But the effect of thousands of voices and tens of thousands of dollars all pushing for a clinic, should give hope to those who sometimes doubt the power of the people.

Blue Divider Line

Hospital over capacity - Video
From CHBC News - Web posted on Tuesday, 08 April 2008

Surgeries have been cancelled because the Vernon hospital is too full.

Blue Divider Line

Code purple cancels surgeries at VJH
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 06, 2008

Extreme measures have been taken as Vernon Jubilee Hospital has reached capacity several times.

VJH has been at code purple – essentially full – four times in two weeks, with the latest case being Tuesday.

“It was the busiest day for us so far this year,” said Peter Du Toit, administrator, adding that code purple status is traditionally only issued about five to 10 times a year.

“It’s happened reasonably frequently in the last few weeks.”

The inability to handle more activity resulted in two or three surgeries being cancelled Tuesday.

Shawna Whiting got a call a few minutes before she left home saying her hysterectomy surgery had been cancelled.

“I was told there was an emergency situation — that all beds were closed and they were turning patients away from the emergency room,” she said.

“People need to be aware that this is a really bad situation.”

While it wasn’t in her case, Whiting believes a cancellation Tuesday could have been devastating for other patients.

“I can’t imagine someone being in pain and 15 minutes before being told you can’t have surgery,” she said.

Du Toit says cancelling surgeries is the last resort, and he is not aware of anyone being transferred to other hospitals.

“Nobody is ever turned away. If it’s something serious, it’s looked at immediately,” he said of people walking into the emergency room.

“I appreciate what the staff and doctors did Tuesday. They did an incredible job but it was tough.”

Du Toit blames the busy conditions at VJH on gastrointestinal illnesses and other seasonal disorders, and acute care beds being taken up by people waiting to get into residential care.

Full beds come as no surprise to physicians.

“We are consistently over census and overcapacity,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, medical staff president.

“VJH is the only hospital consistently overcapacity.”

Additional residential care beds are expected to open in both Vernon and Armstrong this spring and summer.

“That will bring us up to the required number of residential care beds for the area and that will help the hospital,” said Du Toit.

He added that a new diagnostic and treatment tower will be constructed at VJH in 2010, and it could be expanded to include an extra floor of acute care beds.

However, doctors continue to have their doubts.

“We need to be confident that new additional beds will be provided now, and for this new building,” said Cunningham.

“New assisted living and residential care beds have helped. But, these have not

VJH medical staff will hold a public forum on health care at the Schubert Centre Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Blue Divider Line

Realtors rally for doctors
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - April 06, 2008

Century 21’s Mike Beck (second from left) explains concerns he and his fellow Armstrong realtors have over a looming community doctor shortage with Mary Beth Beck, RN (left), Miriam Scott and Beth Brandon at a noon-hour rally Friday. PICTURE NOT SHOWN

Armstrong realtors have added their voice to the calls for action over the community’s looming doctor shortage.

Nearly two dozens realtors – every one in town according to Century 21 realtor Sharon Dahl – gathered downtown Friday to let the public and politicians know something must be done.

“As residents of the community it’s an obvious concern to us as well. Many of us are without a local doctor and we’re having to go to outside communities,” said Dahl.

In February Dr. Rick Sherwin announced that he would close his Armstrong practice if Interior Health or the community didn’t subsidize a multi-doctor clinic that would enable overworked physicians to share the load. Sherwin’s departure would leave the community with one full-time physician and one part-time doctor.

But Armstrong city council has so far expressed a reluctance to fund a clinic, noting health care is traditionally a provincial responsibility.

But for Dahl and her colleagues, a solution must be found – and one that includes physicians in Armstrong.

“As realtors, we work with a lot of people moving into this area. We can offer great things. Our location, our schools, our community support are great. However, the one thing we cannot offer is health care in this community,” said Dahl.

She said the realtors want to impress on politicians of all stripes the importance of local physicians and the need for a medical clinic.

“We had a meeting on this and we all decided we have to do something. We’ve got to put it out there and keep it out there,” said Dahl.

“Enough is enough. We need action today.”

Residents can find most everything they need in Armstrong except health care, she said. And the presence of a large seniors population increases the importance of local doctors.

“For the local population here, our senior citizens, it’s terrible. A lot of them don’t drive.”

Royal LePage broker and realtor Paulette Webb said the lack of physicians may discourage potential residents from moving to the area.

“It really does affect their mind-set,” she said. “when people are moving to the community they want to know what medical services they have.”

Blue Divider Line

Action required soon at hospital
Vernon Morning Star - April 06, 2008

There are more indications of serious challenges within our health care system.

Over the last two weeks, code purple has been initiated four times at Vernon Jubilee Hospital because the facility was at capacity. Surgeries were cancelled and while there are no reports of patients being diverted to other hospitals, that is always possible under these circumstances.

And the apparent reason for most of this is gastrointestinal illness. And while seasonal disorders may add to the patient load, one must wonder how VJH would handle a true emergency like a large natural disaster or a pandemic? If the flu can force code purple, what colours will be used for more serious situations?

The bottom line appears to be a lack of acute care beds at VJH, and while the Interior Health Authority is trying to free up space by creating residential care beds in the community, it’s not enough. There must be a clear focus on expanding the number of acute care beds at VJH so it can handle the demands of a growing region.

The provincial government must also ensure there is sufficient funds so nurses and other support staff are in place.

One way to address this situation would be for the government to amend plans for a new diagnostic and treatment tower. It currently doesn’t include beds but it should. And with the tower supposed to be open in 2010, a financial commitment is required now.

There is no question that the care provided by doctors, nurses and support staff is top-notch, and given current conditions, their actions are extremely impressive.

With that in mind, it is time for the provincial government to stop ignoring the situation and to take direct action.

Blue Divider Line

Doctors take hospital concerns to public
Vernon Morning Star - April 04, 2008

Concerns about Vernon Jubilee Hospital will be front and centre during a public forum.

The VJH medical staff will host a forum on health care at the Schubert Centre Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“This presentation is the result of several groups coming forward requesting further information on the paper Dr. Hamish Hwang and I prepared showing that VJH is underfunded in relation to other sites within IHA,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, president of medical staff.

“We used IHA's and the ministry's own numbers to show that in fact VJH has been underfunded compared to its peers. The medical staff decided to turn to the public to relay this information and answer questions.”

Cunningham says medical staff are pleased that government has committed to funding a new diagnostic and treatment tower at VJH, but other issues must be addressed.

“This is not an expansion.

“There are no plans for the remaining existing parts of the old hospital, in fact most is deemed unsuitable right now.”

The forum will also look at the issue of beds.

“We are so short of beds right now. We need to be confident that new additional beds will be provided now, and for this new building,” said Cunningham.

“New assisted living and residential care beds have helped.

Cunningham hopes residents will attend the forum.

“We hope to continue to bring awareness to the local population regarding health care issues, and how this impacts care for all North Okanagan and Columbia-Shuswap patients,” he said.

“We need to continue to pressure the government and the Ministry of Health, as they hold the purse strings to funding for these desperately needed additional acute care beds.”

Blue Divider Line

Central Okanagan Hospital District Budget

The Regional Hospital District Board is comprised of the members of the Regional District Board. It meets as required for decisions on tax requisitions and funding of major health-related capital projects and equipment. The Regional Hospital District contributes 40% towards these approved projects. At the March 28th special meeting, the Regional Hospital District Board approved the Five Year Financial Plan, including the 2008 Budget of $15.7 million. For a home assessed at $456,000 ($316,000 in 2007) the contribution to the Regional Hospital District is $110.96, up $5.23 from 2007.

Blue Divider Line

Residents surveyed on doctors' shortage

click Vernon Morning Star April 2, 2008 article to read larger print

 

Initial survey returns support medical clinic.
Initial survey returns support medical clinic
click article from Armstrong Advertiser April 9, 2008 to read larger print
Initial survey mailed out says there is an overwhelming desire to have a health care clinic in Armstrong.

Blue Divider Line

Armstrong Gets a Loan
Medical Equipment Loan Cupboard opens for Armstrong and Spallumcheen.


click article to read larger print

Snippets
"It was really hard for everyone. The Red Cross took the equipment that had been donated so we had to start again. Everything we have here has been donated," said secretary treasurer Doreen Couldwell. The cupboard space, in the old Hassen Arena, was built with donated materials and labour from community service groups.

"Everyone was very supportive. Armstrong is a good community in that we will take on anything that is needed," said Huge Sharkey, vice president. President Alberta Foster was smiling as she cut the ribbon to officially open the cupboard. The Armstrong/Spallumcheen Medical Equipment Loan Cupboard is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 am to noon. For more information call 546-4991.

Blue Divider Line

Healthcare Auxillary pledges $75,000 for medical clinic
City and township challenged to meet or beat this 1st pledge.

Article regarding Armstrong BC healthcare system and the doctor shortage they have.  Healthcare Auxillary pledges $75,000 for a medical clinic in Armstrong BC.
click article to read larger print
Article from March 26, 2008 front page of the Armstrong Advertiser.
Article regarding Armstrong BC healthcare system and the doctor shortage they have. The Hospital Auxillary pledges $75,000 for a medical clinic in Armstrong BC.

this is the second part (page 3) of the article above.
Second part of article above regarding Armstrong BC healthcare system and the doctor shortage they have.
click article to read larger print
Article from March 26, 2008 Armstrong Advertiser.
 

Snippets from article above:

Dr. Sherwin proposed a medical clinic model.

"Armstrong is a rural area where people have helped people when no other funding was available," said Mrs. Nilsen. "It's time to get back to our roots."

She said if Interior Health isn't coming forward with support through the cutbacks it has done and little or no help from the community's civic leaders, they would set the tone to start local fund raising.

Blue Divider Line

Letters to the Editor articles in the Armstrong Advertiser March 26, 2008 regarding Armstrong BC health care and the doctor shortage decreasing from 7 doctors down to 1 doctor remaining.

Letters to the Editor articles from the Armstrong Advertiser March 26, 2008 regarding the doctor shortage in Armstrong BC
click article to read larger print

continuation of article above
This article about the Armstrong Doctor Shortage is a continuation from article above.
click article for larger print

Blue Divider Line

March 30, 2008 article from the Vernon Morning Star

Doctors plans questioned
Article from the Armstrong Advertiser regarding the doctor shortage from 7 doctors reduced down to 1 doctor.
click article to read larger print

Snippets from above article:

And Coun. Pat Hudson added that health care is a Provincial responsibility that municipalities cannot afford to fund.

Sherwin said that the city has discretionary funds at its disposal and that Interior Health is paying a similar amount for a downtown Vernon homeless clinic that serves fewer patients.

"We're in a thing here that's far larger than a shortage of doctors in Armstrong, in Princeton, in Chase. It's right across the country."

Blue Divider Line

Government won't disclose hospital's names
Government won't disclose hospitals names regarding rating list of hospitals.
click article to read larger print
One low-ranked hospital had a heart attack rate more than four times as high as the top-rated facility.

Blue Divider Line

Health care problems never end
Kelowna Capital News - Opinion Section - March 21, 2008

Hardly a month goes by where our health care system isn’t under attack for being inefficient, under-funded or just generally failing to meet the demands of taxpayers. Our health care system is a easy target for everyone to criticize without fear of retribution.

Years go by, governments change, but nothing really happens to address these health care issues, whether they be real or imagined for political expediency.

B.C.’s health minister George Abbott is currently being roasted on the legislative spit in Victoria of late for a Surrey hospital’s overcrowding in its emergency department due to a lack of beds, which in turn forced the cancellation of surgeries.

But what is the solution to our never-ending health care woes? More funding for more beds? More funding for more doctors? More funding for greater access to alternative care options? Greater awareness of how to we all should live healthier lifestyles to avoid getting sick? All of the above is probably the answer, but when the various special interest lobby groups start carving up the health allocation funding pie, the bigger picture gets decidedly blurred.

Back in 2002, Roy Romanow headed a commission that presented a massive report on how to upgrade our health care system on a national scale.

Whatever happened to that report’s findings?

Technology and health knowledge have radically changed health care.

It should be creating greater efficiencies in health care spending, but that doesn’t appear to be happening and we need to be asking why.

But it seems there are many status quo service providers in our health care system now who would prefer we didn’t figure out those answers.

Blue Divider Line

Need is there
Vernon Morning Star - March 21, 2008

I wish to express how very concerned I am regarding the need of a medical clinic for Armstrong and Spallumcheen. I cannot begin to thank Dr. Sherwin, Dr. Rutherford and Dr. McLellend enough for taking time to attend our meeting on the 28th.

Their contributions to our concerns were most vital. I was most disappointed when at the second meeting, Dr. Sherwin was told by the city and Interior Health that there was no money for a clinic.

Recently, there has been a third meeting on the doctor shortage - medical clinic issues.

I read that Mayor Will Hansma was not invited. What happened there?

I would hope that our city mayor and council would represent the voice of the taxpayers, agree on something, pull together and do something positive about this grave situation we are in.

Kay Buchanan

Blue Divider Line

Funds promised for clinic
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - March 21, 2008

An Armstrong organization has stepped up to try and address the community’s looming doctor shortage.

The Armstrong/Spallumcheen Health Care Auxiliary has pledged $75,000 towards a new clinic following a presentation Monday from Dr. Rick Sherwin.

Sherwin has been pushing for a health clinic that would be home to four doctors, with its overhead costs subsidized. Without such a clinic, Sherwin has indicated working conditions and an overwhelming workload will force him to close his practice, leaving the area with just two physicians.

“The community needs a clinic to attract doctors,” said auxiliary president Shirley Nilsen.

“They’re not getting any help from IHA and they’re not getting any help from the politicians.”

Nilsen said the pledge is likely the largest ever made by the group, which recently donated $64,000 to Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s Light A Bulb campaign.

The auxiliary raises money by running the Bargain Bin store in Armstrong.

“We feel this is a big enough community to have this sort of establishment here,” said Nilsen, who noted more money could be on the way in the future.

And she is encouraging the community to rally behind a clinic.

Sherwin for his part is pleased with the pledge from the auxiliary and hopes it will boost others to rally around a community clinic.

“It’s wonderful. They’ve been supporters of health care in Armstrong for a long, long time and I think it’s great they’re stepping up to be leaders,” he said.

The auxillary’s donation comes as another community group is meeting to consider various clinic options, including, possibly the establishment of a local foundation.

Blue Divider Line

Who to turn to?
Vernon Morning Star Letters - March 16, 2008

I am mentally ill. I have had warrants issued under the Mental Health Act for me to be taken to the hospital either by police or ambulance, without my consent, and placed in the psychiatric department.

By the time I was hospitalized, I was considered either a threat to myself or possibly a threat to the community. I was usually suicidal.

I have recently been made aware of the treatment of a fellow mentally ill young man who was served such a warrant.

The outcome of that bungled and tragic event was the sad death of the young man.

From what I have understood, seven police officers were sent to the apartment of the young victim.

He, as I understand it, had a paring knife in his hand.

Now, I ask myself, seven police officers?

Perhaps three or four officers were at his door breaking in, while the others were outside.

Try putting yourself in the young man’s position. He is unwell.

There are three or four police officers (the police usually seem very big and threatening when I am sick) in winter parkas, demanding that the paring knife he held be dropped.

On a good day when I am rational and not severely depressed or suicidal, having three or four police officers on my doorstep would scare the daylights out of me. If this happened to me, I would be frightened and afraid.

Now, supposing I was suicidal, depressed, anxious, hysterical, paranoid, or whatever label might be put on me that day, and my door broken down.

Would I be listening to what everyone said to me?

I would be horrified and stressed beyond belief and very agitated. I would feel totally intimidated.

Would I be able to understand what the police wanted?

Would I be able to comply with any request because after all, I am mentally ill and they are not in my home for a tea party?

I used to trust the police.

I used to call the Crisis Line when I needed help.

I used to call the Community Response Team.

I always felt that there was someone out there who could possibly relate to my distress and that I would be helped.

Now, I do not trust the Crisis Line, The Community Response Team, my family doctor, my therapist.

If I need help to overcome my severe depression/thoughts of suicide, I know that a warrant under the Mental Health Act can potentially be issued in my name.

I live in fear that my call will be traced and the police will arrive at my home ready to knock down my door should I be too scared to answer their demands.

Will there be guns drawn when it is my turn for another warrant issued?

I realize that all of this might sound unrealistic and highly preposterous to the healthy and mentally stable people in the community. I am not one of you.

I do not always have control of my mind. The chemistry becomes unbalanced.

And, fellow Vernonites, I am not the only mentally ill person here in town. There are many who are just as ill and now terrified as I am or can become when I am unwell.

I for one dread the day that the next bout of severe depression hits me.

I have no one to trust.

How can I ask for help knowing that I might be the next victim of a rescue mission?

Where does that leave the mentally ill people in Vernon?

Name withheld

Blue Divider Line

Towns sweeten doctors’ pot
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - March 16, 2008

While Armstrong and Spallumcheen politicians, physicians and residents try to come up with a plan to attract physicians, two other communities in similar situations are making offers of money and goods to attract doctors.

In Clearwater, the district council committed to using $10,000 to help attract doctors and pay for housing for temporary physicians. The money will come from the profits of an ICBC office run by the district. Mayor John Harwood had initially asked to commit $39,000.

“We asked them to set some of that aside to work on the lobbying issues and renting an apartment for the doctors,” said Harwood, who met Thursday with provincial Minister of Health George Abbott.

Unlike Armstrong, residents have much further to go to find a doctor in another community.

Harwood told The Morning Star that the two physicians left in his community are planning to leave in June. With the nearest major hospital 120 kilometres away in Kamloops, they have been alternating 24/7 on-call duty, a situation that proved untenable without more help.

And with Kamloops also stretched for physicians, that has left residents worried.

“They’re scared. The old, the chronic sick are very much afraid.”

Harwood said all stakeholders, from the Ministry of Health to UBC to community leaders and Interior Health need to sit down and come to an agreement on action that can be taken instead of competing against one another.

“We need to say, OK, these are the issues, how do we solve them and not keep passing the buck.

“This is becoming a huge problem for B.C. and Canada and we have to find our own solution,” said Harwood. “My biggest fear is we have towns like yours and mine trying to outbid one another.”

The Similkameen town of Princeton, meanwhile, will soon see the departure of two physicians, bringing their number of doctors to just one.

There, area businesses have cobbled together a welcoming gift bag for any new doctor and the town council is considering large incentives.

Princeton council is considering offering doctors an apartment, a car and even a $100,000 signing bonus if a physician signs a three-year contract.

Those incentives reflect the concern in the community, which is an hour and a half drive from Penticton.

“No other issue is as important as that,” said Princeton Mayor Randy McLean.

To address the problem in the long-term, McLean said officials may need to look at how much rural doctors are paid and what can be done to encourage more students to enter medicine.

He added: “I think the other thing is, they have to review the entry qualifications they have for doctors from other countries.”

That option – ensuring immigrant doctors can practice here – is one that came up in discussions between Harwood and Abbott and one that has been raised by Armstrong Mayor Jerry Oglow.

The City of Armstrong, however, has expressed no desire to subsidize a doctor, although a community group is floating the possibility of establishing a community foundation that would provide incentives for physicians.

Oglow said that while houses and cars may be needed to attract doctors to remote communities like Princeton and Clearwater, the situation in Armstrong is different.

“Every community has to look at it from a perspective that is appropriate for them.”

He noted that working conditions have been identified as the major concern and that a community clinic has been raised as a possible solution.

“The city council has not discussed the notion of putting taxpayers money into this, preferring to see if IHA or the community group is able to raise the necessary funds to create this clinic.”

Indeed, many Armstrong residents visit doctors in Vernon and may not be receptive to subsidizing local physicians they would not use, according to Tom Nordstrom, a member of the community group that hopes to find a solution to the shortage.

Blue Divider Line

Citizens seek out cure for shortage of doctors
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - March 14, 2008

With the departure of two Armstrong doctors looming, a group of concerned citizens is hoping to seize the initiative and find a solution.

The group, led by Village Cheese owner Dwight Johnson, has been speaking to local doctor Rick Sherwin, who says increased workload will force him to close his practice, about how to retain and attract physicians.

“One of the things we’re trying to address right now is to put together a formal business plan,” said group member Tom Nordstrom.

Working with Sherwin, Nordstrom said
the group is running through various options, including a general tax levy, a charitable organization in the mold of the Lumby Health Services Society, or a private clinic model where patients buy into a type of club.

“We are trying to review all these sorts of options,” said Nordstrom, who said a public meeting may be held in April.

“There is a community effort going on and we’re twitchy because time is of the essence here,” said Nordstrom. “We’re going to have to have a decision here – a committed decision – by the end of April.”

As a senior, Nordstrom said he is quite concerned about the situation, as are many other people in town.

But others, he said, are less urgent, whether because they are content with visiting walk-in clinics in Vernon or for other reasons.

“Some of them are really concerned, some are saying ‘I’m managing to make do.’”

And because of that mix in opinion, a tax levy may not be supported by the community at large, he said.

But Nordstrom himself wants an alternative to having to visit a walk-in clinic.

“A (walk-in) clinic doesn’t really turn me on from a continuity perspective.”

Sherwin, for his part, is pleased the group is stepping up, saying they’ve been more pro-active than other groups with whom he’s met, including Interior Health, the Ministry of Health and local governments.

“I’m really encouraged by the group. I met with them the other day and they seem to like the idea of a community health centre,” said Sherwin.

Sherwin has been pushing for a health clinic that would be home to four doctors, with overhead costs subsidized.

Interior Health and the City of Armstrong have said they would not be able to fund such a centre, which has disappointed Sherwin.

Blue Divider Line

Doctor shortage continues
Kelowna Capital News - March 05, 2008

Armstrong’s doctor shortage remains unresolved after a meeting between doctors and health officials, although Mayor Jerry Oglow says important progress has been made.

Along with Oglow, Interior Health Authority officials met Thursday with two local doctors, one with a proposed solution to the shortage and another considering practicing in the city.

“We had a very good discussion,” said Oglow, adding: “I don’t know that we resolved anything definitely.”

In January, the announcement that Dr. Rick Sherwin would close his practice if he couldn’t find help threatened to leave Armstrong with just one physician.

While the recent announcement of a new doctor planning to practise in the community has been welcomed, at least four or five doctors are needed, according to Oglow.

Sherwin had been asking IHA to consider subsidizing a clinic in Armstrong that would include four doctors.

Peter du Toit, North Okanagan Health Services administrator with IHA, attended the meeting and was pleased with the ideas that came out of it.

The doctors were informed that IHA could not provide a subsidy to cover operating costs for a clinic in Armstrong.

At a meeting in January, doctors told residents that the high workload in the community combined with the proximity to easier jobs in Vernon make it near impossible to attract other doctors.

Du Toit said that IHA is working with Sherwin to explore other options, including the possibility of providing nursing services.

Blue Divider Line

Meeting fails to find cure
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - March 02, 2008

Armstrong’s doctor shortage remains unresolved after a meeting between doctors and health officials, although Mayor Jerry Oglow says important progress has been made.

Along with Oglow, Interior Health Authority officials met Thursday with two local doctors, one with a proposed solution to the shortage and another considering practicing in the city.

“We had a very good discussion,” said Oglow, adding: “I don’t know that we resolved anything definitely.”

In January, the announcement that Dr. Rick Sherwin would close his practice if he couldn’t find help threatened to leave Armstrong with just one physician. While the recent announcement of a new doctor planning to practise in the community has been welcomed, at least four or five doctors are needed according to Oglow.

Sherwin had been asking IHA to consider subsidizing a clinic in Armstrong that would include four doctors.

Peter du Toit, North Okanagan Health Services administrator with IHA, attended the meeting and was pleased with the ideas that came out of it.

The doctors were informed that IHA could not provide a subsidy to cover operating costs for a clinic in Armstrong. At a meeting in January, doctors told residents that the high workload in the community combined with the proximity to easier jobs in Vernon make it near impossible to attract other doctors.

Du Toit said that IHA is working with Sherwin to explore other options, including the possibility of providing nursing services.

The doctors were also informed that they bear some responsibility for attracting new doctors.

“The family physicians do have some of their own work to do because they are private practices,” said du Toit. The role of Interior Health is to help the doctors, in that respect, he added.


“We’re just working, trying to help them get as far down that road as possible.”

Sherwin, for his part, said he was disappointed by the meeting and the fact no money could be found from either the city or IHA to help fund a clinic.

A subsidized practice was not the only option discussed. The four-hour meeting also included talks on the possibility of a local charitable foundation that would help fund local physicians, and Sherwin will meet with community members this week.

The groups will reconvene April 7 for another meeting to discuss any progress.

Blue Divider Line

Mayor, doctors ready to meet with IHA officials
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - February 08, 2008

Armstrong Mayor Jerry Oglow and two area doctors will meet with the Interior Health Authority later this month to discuss ways the city can attract new physicians.

As it stands, the departure of two doctors by the end of June will mean Armstrong will only have one family physician practicing.

Oglow said the parties will meet Feb. 28 to discuss a proposal by a local doctor for a group practice in the city.

Dr. Rick Sherwin told a town hall meeting last week that such a practice could attract four physicians by the fall but that it would need to be subsidized, whether by the province or the community.

The possibility was also raised of housing a practice in the vacant wing of the former Pleasant Valley Health Centre, now an adult care facility.

“The real challenge for us in dealing with this is not the bricks and mortar element,” said Oglow.

“What is more difficult to resolve is the operating costs and the annual subsidy that would need to be made for a health centre in Armstrong.”

Blue Divider Line

Program fails to attract doctors
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - February 03, 2008

An incentive program launched last year to attract physicians to communities suffering doctor shortages has largely fizzled.

Last June, the province announced an incentive program that would see a $100,000 package given to doctors setting up shop in 90 communities around the province.

But while Interior Health has 18 incentive packages to hand out, none have yet been accepted in the region and Randy Forsyth, Interior Health manager of primary care services for the North Okanagan, is aware of only one offer made to a doctor.

“Amongst the people I work with there was certainly the hope that it would help it along,” said Forsyth. “I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t seem to be quite the incentive it was thought to be.”

The issue of incentives arose at a public meeting in Armstrong Wednesday where citizens, politicians, doctors and officials tried to come up with solutions to an impending doctor shortage.

As it stands, by the end of June, Armstrong and Spallumcheen will be down to one physician serving a combined population of more than 9,000 people.

Forsyth said the meeting was helpful and productive and will hopefully lead to a solution to Armstrong’s problem.

“I think there was enough optimism among the group that I think we should be able to work together in the short term to get something going and in the long-term to attract and retain physicians in Armstrong,” he said.

George Abbott, health minister and Shuswap MLA, who was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting, said incentive packages already in place will hopefully resolve the situation in Armstrong.

“We’ve put in place a number of programs that are specifically aimed at portions of the province of British Columbia that have traditionally had recruitment retention problems,” Abbott told The Morning Star.

The minister said he believes the Armstrong situation will be solved in the long-term through the recruitment policies that target physicians on an individual basis.

“It’s difficult to have three (doctors) until you have two and it’s difficult to have four doctors until you have three,” said Abbott.

Abbott said there are no specific plans to deal with the Armstrong situation individually and that his ministry has not entered any discussions to help set up a group practice or clinic as proposed at Wednesday’s meeting, although he was aware of discussions between Interior Health and Armstrong physician Rick Sherwin.

Blue Divider Line

There is a possible solution
Vernon Morning Star - February 01, 2008

There are no easy solutions to the doctor shortage already being felt in Armstrong and Spallumcheen but make no mistake, there are solutions.

The province could set up a facility for a group practice. According to Rick Sherwin, such a facility could immediately draw three doctors and, after that, easily a fourth. There is even space ready to go in the old Pleasant Valley Health Centre.

Or, alternatively, money could be thrown at doctors to attract them to areas experiencing extreme shortages. Policies can be rewritten and no, it won’t be cheap, but no solution will be.

Armstrong has good reason to feel shunned by local health authorities, having lost first its hospital and then its diagnosis, emergency and treatment facility.

One can say Vernon is just around the corner, and its true that many residents see doctors in the city. But primary care is intended to prevent illness and disease before it occurs. Anything that discourages residents to see their doctor will inevitably cost more money down the road.

As people age in Armstrong and Spallumcheen, making the drive to Vernon becomes more of an ordeal just when they should be making more visits to their family physician.

Clearly something must be done and clearly options exist. Interior Health officials have promised to look at the problem and the provincial ministry of health must do the same.

And short notice or not, Minister of Health, and Armstrong’s MLA George Abbott should have been at Wednesday’s meeting. He wasn’t.

Armstrong needs to know the province cares about it, and now that can only be proven through quick, decisive action.

Blue Divider Line

Community aims to cure doctor shortage
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - February 01, 2008

Interior Health Chief Operating Officer Joanne Konnert speaks to Armstrong and Spallumcheen residents Wednesday at a town hall meeting to address an impending doctor shortage.

Facing the loss of two more doctors, Armstrong and Spallumcheen residents made an impassioned plea Wednesday to Interior Health officials for a new medical clinic or subsidized group practice.

More than 120 people packed into the Oddfellows Hall for a hastily called town hall meeting on the impending doctor shortage. By the end of June, the numbers of family physicians in the community – once at five – will stand at one.

All of which had residents, doctors, politicians and health officials desperately seeking solutions in a civil meeting that functioned more as a public forum than debate.

Over and over, residents came back to the need for a group practice or clinic in town. The discussion was sparked when Dr. Rick Sherwin, who is planning to close his practice in June, said a subsidized and staffed group clinic would attract four physicians by fall.

Sherwin is leaving months after Dr. Phillip Rutherford, with whom he shares a practice, departs for family reasons. Unwilling to shoulder the load of a practice alone at a stage in his life where he would be looking to work less not more, he said a group practice, aided by IHA, would resolve the crisis.

“That’s our presentation, our offer of a solution, but so far it hasn’t been taken up by Interior Health,” he said. Sherwin also raised the possibility of a health centre similar to that in Enderby, an option also bandied about by Armstrong Mayor Jerry Oglow.

“They brag about the Enderby set-up and they’re very keen but they’re not interested in providing that in Armstrong,” said Sherwin.

At the end of the meeting a petition with excess of 1,000 signatures asking for a group clinic for Armstrong was delivered to Oglow, who promised to pass it on to Health Minister and local MLA George Abbott, who was in Victoria and unable to attend.

But Interior Health Chief Operating Officer Joanne Konnert said the Enderby model has fallen out of favour with the province.

“The government is not funding that in the same way they used to. They’ve moved the money to different areas,” she said.

Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma pointed to a vacant wing of Pleasant Valley Health Centre as a possible location for a group clinic. The wing used to host emergency services in the city. Konnert committed to discussing the possibility of the facility with her staff.

Dr. Craig Jackson, who will be the one remaining physician left in the community, said incentives were the most viable long-term solution to Armstrong’s problem.

He pointed to a program that had previously paid doctors in the community an annual incentive but was cut off in 2002. At the time Armstrong had five physicians but not long thereafter the first left.

Despite being the lone doctor in town, Jackson says he will soldier on for the foreseeable future, although it will not be easy.

“As a solo practitioner in this town, it’s going to be difficult to carry that load for a long period of time,” he said.

Indeed, quality of life for doctors was one of the main issues raised, with all accepting that fewer physicians mean a higher workload for those that remain – a situation that makes it very difficult to attract and retain new doctors.

Dr. Kira McClennon, a young physician who has been filling in for Sherwin on a temporary basis, said that she would not be able to set up permanent shop in the community given the current situation.

“We all want to work with other people so we’re supported both (as colleagues) and professionally as well,” she said. “It’s not just about the money. We have to be happy in the practice and the practice has to be sustainable in the long-term.”

While the one-time $100,000 incentive for physicians settling in outlying communities announced last year by the province was enough to get McClennon to seriously look at Armstrong, it couldn’t entice her to settle in the community, given the high-stress situation she’d be entering.

And with opportunities in group practices down the road in Vernon for the same pay but less headaches, previous recruitment efforts had seen a targeted doctor find employment in Vernon.

Meanwhile, the possibility of nurse practitioners was said to be just as hard to attract as doctors.

But while residents raised options, asked questions and posed possible solutions in a meeting that was remarkably civil, anger was also directed towards Interior Health, which closed the city’s hospital in the 1980s and then, a decade later, the diagnosis and treatment centre that replaced it.

“I’m sorry. You haven’t done anything in this community. Since we lost our hospital we’ve gone down to nothing,” resident Ed Caron told officials. “Surely you’ve seen this over 10 years. It’s about time you guys do something.”

But Konnert said a financial solution to the doctor crisis would be difficult for Interior Health.

“I’m not saying it couldn’t be done. I think there would be some hoops we would have to jump through,” she said, noting that any financial promise to Armstrong wouldn’t stop there. “When you multiply it out through the province it becomes a significant amount of money.”

Interior Health has traditionally not been involved in either recruiting, or paying, doctors, she said. Pay scales are agreed to between the B.C. Medical Association and the government.

But residents aren’t just looking to health officials to solve the crisis.

Resident Ivan Taguchi asked if the community could contribute to a fund that would go to medical school graduates who intend to practice in Armstrong.

“If we’re in competition with other communities, I’d like to get a leg up, whatever it takes,” he said. That idea was well-received, as was a suggestion for a community foundation, the interest from which could go to subsidize the annual cost of doctors.

As the meeting finished, potential solutions were plenty but a cure to Armstrong’s problem was not yet on order. Konnert committed to speak to work on the issue and report back by the end of February and Oglow promised to press the community’s case with Abbott.

Oglow said that it’s unfortunate any gain by Armstrong will likely deprive another town of their doctor.

“But so be it. All’s fair in love and war and health care.”

And a consensus was reached by residents that action must be taken sooner rather than later by residents, politicians and health officials.

“We watched Dr. Scofield leave without a replacement, we watched Dr. Waechter leave without a replacement and now we’re losing two more fine doctors. We need to stop talking and start working,” said resident Linda Henderson. “It’s on the shoulders of everyone in the community. Not your shoulders and not your shoulders, all our shoulders so let’s get working.”

Blue Divider Line

$140,000 could be put to better use
From March 07, 2008 Kelowna Capital News - Letters

To the editor:

Glad to see you print the letter regarding the $140,000 price-tag for the William Bennett Bridge official opening party.

Not only is it a poor choice of use of taxpayers’ money and an excuse for a paid day of partying by local dignitaries, it’s a very sad statement to what is being deemed important over other issues such as feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and those that are working full time /minimum wage, creating sustainable independence, or children’s issues (might be more important).

Whose egos decided that this party is necessary ?

As well it would be really nice to hear some smart and positive ideas coming from our city council.

Of late, about the 11 p.m. closing of evening establishments…give your head a shake. People out on the town will just go somewhere else to party. If we actually believe that taking everything away works, try thinking like a parent (and you will realize that kind of thinking doesn’t work).

Let’s help the cab companies enlarge their fleets.

I was out this past Friday evening and at 10:30 p.m. the wait was over an hour long for an acquaintance to get a ride home.

If the ‘parent’ presents reasonable better solutions, it’s just amazing the good that can happen.

Susanne Christensen,
Kelowna

Blue Divider Line

Cash secured for VJH upgrade
From March 07, 2008 Vernon Morning Star page A10

The money is in place for a major upgrade for Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The provincial budget has been approved by the Legislature, including $81 million for a new diagnostic and treatment tower at VJH.

"We are seeing unprecedented capital investments in health care facilities right across British Columbia," said Tom Christensen, Okanagan Vernon MLA.

"In my own community of Vernon, finally after years of waiting where Vernon Jubilee Hospital was simply ignored, we're getting a new diagnostic tower and treatment tower, an over $80 million investment."

The budget also includes a new carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The budget puts a price on carbon and then returns the carbon tax revenue to individuals and businesses in the form of reduced income taxes, a lower small business tax rate and a lower general corporate income tax rate,” said Christensen.

Blue Divider Line

Hospital in crisis mode
March 07, 2008 Vernon Morning Star Letters page A9

After watching television news, I decided to do a little research into Canada’s health care. “Health care ranks near the bottom. Canada gets poor marks in International health survey”. Indeed. CTV states “Canada ranks dismal 23rd out of 30 countries, according to a study of private think tanks. Among all countries, Austria comes out on top of the list, followed by the next five finishers, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden, Canada was toward the bottom of the list with 550 points out of a 1,000, lagging behind such countries as the U.K., Spain and Estonia.

Rebecca Walberg, one of the report researcher says: “It is certainly not news to Canadians that diagnosis and treatment waits in Canada are long. But it is a surprise to see that we finish at the bottom of the index in this area. In successful European health care systems there are strong patient rights laws. Because Canadians lack such rights, Canadians are treated as passive patients, rather than empowered consumers.”

Much has been said and written, the facts are there, Austria the leader spends 7.7 of its GPD, has three times as many doctors as Canada, and twice as many hospital beds per 1,000 population. Canada spends 9.6 of it’s GDP! So what is wrong? Is the money diverted for other purposes or is it that Interior Health fails to understand the real needs of people. There seems to be detachment to the suffering and undignified circumstances under which our people live.

Our emergency waiting room is something out of Victorian times. It would have greatly benefitted from a fraction of the money that our MLA Mr. Christensen spent on a luxurious renovation to his office in Victoria.

A continuously heavy burden is the ever growing influx of people into our area. Our city fathers are completely unprepared for the multiple problems which arise, the main one being, access to hospital, home care after early hospital release, long waiting times in emergency, exhausted nurses and doctors, ambulance crews waiting in crowded hallways with seriously ill patients, only hallways available on too many occasions. Lock down occurs too often. The list goes on and on. Inferior Health, sorry Interior Health, when confronted with crisis issues has standard answers, which are, “we will look into it, or we’ll start on working on a plan, or can’t confirm it at this time. Or we are looking at options!”

At this point I have to say that apart from very long waits in emergency and my husband sleeping in the hallway, I have always been treated with friendly, compassionate, doctors and nurses.

The plain fact is that we taxpayers are paying the bills and this should not be forgotten by IHA and the provincial government who grudgingly attend to the financing, always trying to catch up and never succeeding.

Sadly, most of us are a bit overawed by the authority wielded by Minister Abbott with his lexicon of excuses trotted out every time something goes wrong, painful to watch and painful to listen to.

Just one instance which will be long remembered. In a meeting with the Regional District Hospital Board he said – I know there are substantial challenges at Vernon Jubilee but I am unwilling to commit funds to resolve those problems – not even a hint at helpfulness.

Are there solutions? I think there are. There are rooms which were patients rooms now used for storerooms!

Open them.

There are many non-medical staff occupying patient space. Move them to other quarters.

Recruit more doctors and nurses, if incentives are needed, offer them.

VJH is in crisis mode. If IHA cannot deal with the situation then we must get someone who can.

Inge Hill

Blue Divider Line

Residents renew call for a Westside hospital
By Jason Luciw - Kelowna Capital News - March 05, 2008

Smith Creek resident and former mayoral candidate John Burke says land at the corner of Butt and Elliott Roads hasn’t been good for farming for years and the Agricultural Land Commission was wrong not to exclude it.

Residents who want a full hospital in Westside won’t be dissuaded despite Interior Health’s refusal to build one and a recent decision to keep the chosen location for the planned health unit in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Former mayoral candidate and past president of the Smith Creek Residents’ Association John Burke is leading the charge to bring a full service hospital instead of the health centre IHA has announced.

Interior Health has said Westside is not ready for a full hospital for a host of reasons, including the fact that the largest tertiary hospital in the region is just down the highway in Kelowna.

But, even with a major expansion in the works at Kelowna General Hospital, the facility won’t meet Westside’s needs, according to Burke.

“Interior Health wants to put in an eight-hour centre (in Westside). That’s the same as a walk-in clinic,” said Burke.

“People get sick all hours of the day or night and we need a place that is able to take them.”

He also doesn’t believe that the new William R. Bennett Bridge will improve access to the hospital in Kelowna, especially in the event of an emergency.

Severe weather could snarl traffic and summertime volumes would have the same potential to cause back ups on Bridge Hill, he said.

“Where are you going to go. You’ve got a lot of line ups, you’ve got the trucks there that are still going to tie up the traffic. And if you have a heart attack you need help now.”

He argues a Westside hospital would also relieve pressures on Penticton Regional, Vernon Jubilee and Kelowna General Hospitals.

“Instead of waiting two years to get treatment, this way we could maybe see it go down to an eight- or 10-week waiting period…for knee surgery hip surgery, whatever surgery that’s necessary,” said Burke.

“I’ve got quite a few people I’ve talked to who are in favour of this.”

And he feels Interior Health should not be putting money ahead of patient care.

“They’re talking about the bucks. What is more important, people’s health or the dollar?”

Burke would like Health Minister George Abbott and Okanagan-Westside MLA Rick Thorpe to sit down with local residents to listen to their arguments in favour of a hospital.

But Burke said he wants to gather a few more facts and figures before formally requesting such a meeting.

On the subject of the land being kept in the land reserve, Burke can’t believe the Agricultural Land Commission rejected Interior Health’s application to exclude the property at Butt and Elliott Roads for the new health facility.

“Agricultural land (preservation) should not (supersede) saving people’s lives. One person’s life is more important than that piece of land.”

The property , he said, can not provide food.

“The soil has not been turned over. There have been fruit trees on it. All the nutrients in that soil is gone.”

The property is burned out for agricultural purposes.

“You can put all the fertilizer you want on it and the (production) wouldn’t pay for the fertilizer you’d need.”

The Agricultural Land Commission ruled on Feb. 21 that the 3.7-hectare property would not be excluded.

Instead, a non-farm use would be allowed for the purposes of building a health centre on just the southern most quarter of the parcel, along Bering Road.

Interior Health is taking 90 days to evaluate if its service plans would work within the confines of the Agricultural Land commission’s decision on the proposal for the property.

Meanwhile, new plans are in the works to lobby for a Westside hospital.

Burke said he hopes to have details in a few weeks.

Blue Divider Line

Home care services eroding
By Adrian Nieoczym - Kelowna Capital News - March 05, 2008

Kelowna Home and Community Care Services are in crisis, says the British Columbia Nurses’ Union.

And it is starting a campaign to raise public awareness about the erosion of public health care.

Kelowna Home and Community Care Services provides a variety of home health care, ambulatory treatment clinic and diabetic clinic services to approximately 5,000 patients.

Interior Health has reorganized the services several times in the last five years, the most recent being this past fall.

“The reorganization came through as a result of deciding they could pair off certain duties and sort of streamline the work more and make less nurses do more; basically, to serve a broader area,” said Kelowna BCNU spokeswoman Joyce Procure.

The reorganization piled more duties onto already overworked nurses, said Procure, to the point where nurses feel they are no longer able meet the necessary standards of care.

Nurses are even working unpaid overtime and through coffee and lunch breaks as they attempt to provide proper care.

She added that managers are telling nurses to encourage patients to buy private health care rather than rely on public services.

“(Nurses) also were being told that they had to be delivering a message to the public and that was to have the nurses themselves be responsible for telling patients that they’re going to get less and less and that they don’t qualify anymore, and to actually direct them to private pay agencies,” said Procure.

“They’re literally being encouraged to direct patients away from our publicly funded home support services and to start looking privately for their services which is absolutely inappropriate.”

When asked if nurses are being told to push patients towards private care, Interior Health director of health services, Alice Mah Wren, said home and community care services have always supplemented rather than replaced a patient’s own resources.

“What our nurses do is they work with a client to take a look at what resources they do have, whether it be their own family members or if they have other avenues,” she said.

“We do provide basic services for a person but if they’re wanting more then we also explore with them other options they may have…we would say go to a private option but we would also provide the alternative.”

Mah Wren said she believes patients are able to get good care these days, but that the current standards of care are over 20 years old and need to re-evaluated.

“Those standards have not been relooked at in terms of the population we’re serving now,” she said.

“We’re in an environment now where we’re looking at more acuity.

“The expectations in terms of people who are interested in services is going to continue to grow and I think everyone’s looking at are we doing things in a way that actually serves the population better.”

She said Interior Health has to look at using its resources in the best way possible, noting she understands nurses may find the reorganization unsettling.

“A change is difficult and particularly for this group of nurses who have been doing things in a certain way for a long, long time and a change may feel very threatening,” she said.

The community nurses Over Capacity Campaign starts today when BCNU president Debra McPherson comes to Kelowna.

Blue Divider Line

Bridge party shows city’s priorities are goofy
March 02, 2008

To the editor:

When is foolishness going to end?

When will our local politicians and MLAs get serious about real priorities?

In addition to the $80 million being spent for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics by all of us through our federal and provincial taxes we pay, the City of Kelowna wants to spend $140,000 for a party in the park in order to open a new bridge that is on time and slightly under budget.

Aren’t there other important projects to spend that money on, like homeless shelters, or land for affordable housing, or assistance for our hospital, or better transit, that might be a higher priority?

These goofy party plans can be changed very simply.

Everyone who wants to party can buy their own drinks, bring their own food, and go to the former shortened and sliced up soccer field in City Park and spend a pleasant half-hour listening to the politicians praise themselves on spending $400 million plus on land assembly including the $ 140 million for our bridge.

Then, please go home.

Save the $140,000 for more worthy needs—not parties for politicos at public expense!

And give Westside a break. That community wasn’t a city when this bridge was dreamed up for the last provincial election.

John O. Powell,
Kelowna

Blue Divider Line

Highlights of the Regional Board Meeting– August 20, 2007
Regional Hospital Board Spending Approved
The Regional Hospital Board has approved nine bylaws to spend over $2.3 million to help purchase medical equipment, fund the Community Ambulatory Care/Diabetes Clinic and upgrade the Data Centre at Kelowna General Hospital. Interior Health says the
data centre upgrade will cost more than $2.6 million while the Ambulatory Care/Diabetes Clinic will cost $1 million. Interior Health will contribute 60% of the funds while the Regional Hospital District will fund up to 40% of the cost of major capital and medical equipment purchases for the Central Okanagan.

Blue Divider Line

Highlights of the Regional Board Meeting– July 23, 2007
Regional Hospital Board Spending Approved
The Regional Hospital Board has approved a bylaw to spend $260,000 to help purchase a major piece of medical equipment. Interior Health plans to buy a Urology Imaging System for use at Kelowna General Hospital. Interior Health will contribute $390,000
towards the cost of the equipment. The Regional Hospital District funds up to 40% of the cost of major capital and equipment purchases for the Central Okanagan.

Blue Divider Line

Changes Needed
Source Vernon Morning Star September 21, 2007

I write this in hopes of our B.C. government taking notice and making changes to our health care system.

I am a 58-year-old woman who suffers from arthritis. I live alone, outside of Lumby and I receive a disability pension of $920 per month courtesy of MEIA. I must live affordably.

Recently I was to have major surgery on my right foot that was to remove all of the toe joints and replace them with metal screws. I would need to be in a cast for three months with no weight bearing whatsoever on the foot.

Due to no home care available to me after surgery, unless we are able to afford to pay the home care out of my disability pension, I have to go without the surgery. I have no friends or family who could provide this service without putting themselves in serious financial jeopardy.

So what does one, in this kind of situation, do?

I spoke to Interior Health who says home support workers only assist with baths and to monitor medications. Lord lure a duck, it doesn’t require weight bearing to transfer out of a wheelchair onto a bath bench and use a hand held shower to keep oneself clean.

Nor does it require weight bearing to take a pill if one needs to. Most folks can dust sitting in a wheelchair, what one needs help with would be the common everyday chores such as vacuuming, sweeping and washing a kitchen floor, or laundry.

Who would go for three months after surgery without a change of bedding, without clean laundry or clean floors?

Interior Health tells me it is not their problem. I called Social Services and spoke to a supervisor who would only say it is not their policy to keep one in that situation.

In desperation, I called the MLA office, who found that a church group in Vernon may help. Unfortunately they will do four hours per month of only light housework, like dusting. No vacuuming, floors, laundry, or changing bedding. When I informed the MLA’s office in Vernon, they felt maybe I did not need surgery and suggested I only wanted a free housekeeper.

Now get this lovely little catch 22 - while Social Services told me I could go into a care facility for three months after surgery and they will be willing to pay for that - they would not provide me with the money to pay my rent and utilities while I was in the Care Facility. So when I would be discharged I would have no home to go to.

Several weeks ago I wrote to George Abbott, Health Minister in Victoria, outlining this situation and asking him what I would do to manage were it him in my shoes. To date I have received no reply.

I would like to throw out a challenge to all Interior Health workers, all people in MLA offices and all workers in Social Service offices in Vernon to try to experiment of being wheelchair dependent for three months. Perhaps if they actually would try it for the full three months, have only $920 per month to live on, and try doing their heavier housework there would be some large changes made in a hurry.

If the MLA is apparently able to find enough money in the budget to give himself a raise, why can’t money be found to help out with medical services ?

Come on people let’s make some noise after all we are all voters.

J. Davis


For more information of the Tobacco Control Act and Regulations or for the telephone number of your health authority, please visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/tobacco

PDF file icon BC's Tobacco Control Strategy

How do you feel about the new law that limits the display of tobacco products.

On March 31, 2008, new tobacco legislation will come fully into force.
The amended Tobacco Control Act:

- bans smoking in indoor public places and work places;
- bans smoking near public doorways, windows, and air intakes; and
- limits the display and sales of tobacco and tobacco products.

Tobacco products cannot be displayed or visible to minors inside of your store. In addition, they cannot be clearly visible to a person outside of the store.

Does the government now feel that just looking at tobacco products can be harmful to your health?

Yes, pharmacies can continue to sell tobacco, if they are located on private property, because they do not meet the definition of a health care service.

What is your opinion about the government limiting the display of tobacco products and allowing the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies?  Letters article we found about smoking in the Vernon Morning Star

No more smoking - Video
From CHBC News Web posted on Friday, 14 March 2008

Some Okanagan bar owners and customers are fired up over new smoking rules.

Blue Divider Line

Use the form below to tell us what you think of the healthcare system.

If the form below does not work please,

or contact Minister of Health George Abbott


Armstrong Advertiser
3400 Okanagan St
Armstrong, BC, V0E 1B0
Telephone: (250) 546-3121
Fax: (250) 546-3636
Email: armadver

Blue Divider Line

COMMUNITY   * required
(If your community is not listed above, please type it in below and choose "other community" above)
 
COMMENTS
* required
 

 

Blue Divider Line

View resident's comments here.

 Email Okanagan Lake BC

Blue Divider Line

Gossip for All
Make a Comment

INDEX ALL ] Air Quality ] Agriculture ] Barking Bylaw ] BC Election 09 ] BC Gov ] BC Human Rights ] BC Hydro ] BC Laws ] BC Native Land Claim ] BC Rivers ] Boating ] Building Inspection ] Building Laws ] Building Laws RDCO ] Bullying ] Bylaw Enforcement ] Canada Post ] Canadian Gov. ] Carbon Tax ] Democracy ] Denied Delegates ] Dictatorship ] Dog Complaints ] Drugs ] EDC ] Food ] Garbage Law ] Gas Prices ] Global Warming ] Gov. Spending ] Great Ideas ] [ Health Care ] Homelessness ] ICBC ] Inland Port ] Legal System ] Library ] Missing Pets ] New Government ] Petition to Parl. ] Planning ] RDCO Agreement ] RDCO Policy ] RDCO Policy Manual ] RDCO Spending ] Road Rage ] Robin Hood ] School Tax ] Security ] Smoking ] Sewer ] Suicide ] Tasers ] Telus Cell ] Telus TV ] Telus Wireless ] Tourism ] Tussock Moth ] Wage Inequality ] Water Board ] Western Budworm ] Westside T. Station ] WFN ] Wind Power ] Wrong ]

Blue Divider Line

Gossip for All
Read others Comments

Air Quality ] Agriculture ] Barking Bylaw ] BC Election 09 ] BC Gov. ] BC Human Rights ] BC Hydro ] BC Laws ] BC Native Land Claim ] BC Rivers ] Boating ] Building Inspection ] Buidling Laws ] Building Laws RDCO ] Bullying ] Bylaw Enforcement ] Canada Post ] Canadian Gov. ] Carbon Tax ] Democracy ] Denied Delegates ] Dictatorship ] Dog Complaints ] Drugs ] EDC ] Food ] Garbage Laws ] Gas Prices ] Global Warming ] Gov. Spending ] Great Ideas ] Health Care ] Homelessness ] ICBC ] Inland Port ] Legal System ] Missing Pets ] New Government ] Petition to Parl. ] Planning Minutes ] RDCO Agreement ] RDCO Policy ] RDCO Policy Manual ] Road Rage ] RDCO Spending ] Robin Hood ] School Tax ] Secure Prosperity ] Sewer ] Smoking ] Suicide ] Tasers ] Telus Cell ] Telus TV ] Telus Wireless ] Tourism ] Tussock Moth ] Wage Inequality ] Water Board ] Western Budworm ] Westside T. Station ] WFN ] Wind Power ] Wrong ]

Blue Divider Line

Gossip
In Other Towns

INDEX ALL ] Boucherie Rd ] Kaleden ] Kelowna ] Naramata ] Oyama ] Peachland ] Penticton ] Summerland ] Vernon ] West Kelowna ] Westside Road ] Winfield ]

Blue Divider Line

Index

Boucherie Road ] Kaleden ] Kelowna ] Naramata ] Oyama ] Peachland&n