Representatives from the Kimberley Health Centre’s Interior Health team were given a warm welcome by Kimberley City Council Monday evening, but that didn’t mean they didn’t also receive a few pointed questions.
Shannon Statham, Community Health Services Manager for Interior Health in Kimberley was at Council to keep them updated on services Interior Health provides at the Kimberley Health Centre as well as explaining IH’s strategy of reducing the need for high cost hospital and residential care by helping people to remain healthy in their own homes as long as possible.
She also spoke of the challenges in providing services for an aging population in a large, mostly rural health authority as the baby boomers reach the age that they require more health services.
Statham said that the population of those entering the period where use of the health care system will dramatically increase was growing at about 20 per cent.
She said Interior Health was very proud of the services they provided at the Kimberley Health Centre and the way they were able to work with the physicians who run their practice at the Health Centre to provide more seamless coverage for those with chronic illnesses.
When the floor was turned over for questions, Coun Albert Hoglund said he had a few comments, though he understood that Statham may not be able to answer.
These, Hoglund said, were long time concerns of his.
He said he understood the concept of wanting to keep people healthy in their own homes, but there does come a time when an aging person needs residential care. Hoglund’s concern was being able to access that care when needed.
He said his father-in-law was currently in hospital waiting for a place.
“There are waiting lists at Garden View and the Pines. The waiting list at Joseph Creek is almost two years from what I understand. So my father-in-law is supposed to go to the first available space and it could be in Golden or Fernie. That’s not easy for the family. It’s heartless. And if you look at the demographics it’s only going to get worse. There’s not enough residential care at the moment.”
Statham said that she understands that a senior going out of town is hard on families, but IH was usually able to bring that person back to town within 90 days.
Coun. Darryl Oakley, who works for Interior Health in Dementia Care said that was true.
“It is consistent that people are coming back in 90 days. If they are sent to Creston or Fernie they are on priority to come back to their community. They are first on the list.”
Oakley also said he hadn’t heard of anyone being sent as far as Golden.
Hoglund’s other concern was palliative care.
IH literature does list a palliative unit in Kimberley, but Hoglund says it’s just not the case.
“Kimberley does not have a palliative care unit,” he said. “IH says we do but it’s also used as a respite bed and for other things. So you can’t always access it for palliative care. To say we have palliative care in Kimberley is not correct.
“We were promised palliative care when they shut our hospital down, in my mind we don’t have it.
“I appreciate the job you are doing but sometimes I wonder if IH big wigs are listening to people in smaller communities.”
Statham said she would take Hoglund’s concerns back to Interior Health.
As far as the Health Centre itself, Statham said Kimberley’s health centre was a good model of how a health centre should work, with a good range of services, well-integrated and collaborative.
“It helps that the physicians are co-located at the Health Centre. They can run down the hall and consult.”
Mayor Ron McRae said that while Kimberley will always feel the affects of the hospital closure, what was being offered at the Health Centre was a pretty good range of services and should be promoted.