DEBRA LYNN PHOTO Port Alice Health Forum board members in a good mood after VIHA’s recent change regarding the emergency room.

Port Alice claiming emergency room victory

Health centre’s emergency room to be left intact, fully stocked with all equipment

Debra Lynn Special to the North Island Gazette

Port Alice residents are claiming a partial victory in the fight to save emergency services in the community.

After a nine-month struggle, they are ready to put away their “Port Alice Lives Matter” signs and celebrate the fact their emergency room will remain intact.

The battle for health care is not completely won, however, as there remains the matter of the 24/7 on-call emergency staffing that is yet to be fully implemented.

The Port Alice Health Forum Society is happy with the following decisions:

  • The emergency room will be left intact with all equipment to be left in place and stocked.
  • The social worker/counsellor position has become permanent at four days a week.
  • Home care will operate seven days a week, including evenings.
  • The adult day program has started and is being well received. A contractor has been hired to begin work in June installing the handicap doors and washroom.
  • Doctor’s hours have been finalized, and Dr. Makenzie is under contract until 2020. He will have clinic hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and will be on call from Sunday evening to Thursdays at 4:30 p.m.

“These points we feel are resolved to our liking,” Port Alice Health Forum Society chairwoman Valerie Eyford said.

RELATED: Reeling Port Alice facing emergency care cutbacks

The still unresolved issue of the on-call RN nursing coverage for emergency/urgent care evenings and weekends will be dealt with at later meetings. Island Health is also looking into an alternative model of care for BC ambulance services in Port Alice that will allow paramedics more autonomy.

At previous meetings there was concern that having a sole nurse on-call evenings and weekends posed a security risk, which made VIHA reluctant to implement the staffing. Cameron mentioned that ambulance attendants should remain with the client, therefore resolving security issues for the RN.

Meanwhile, the bathing program will be left for now and will be revisited in the future.

Eyford credited media exosure and direct lobbying to North Island MLA Claire Trevena and Health Minister Adrian Dix for the turnabout from Island Health.

“The only reason things changed is when the media got involved. It did not change until the media got involved,” advocate Alma Vantschip said.

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