It’s going to take a lot of work, but Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok vows that he and fellow MLA Tom Shypitka and the MLAs from the north and south Peace country will get to the bottom of the continuing issues with rural residents in border areas of BC having difficulty in accessing health care in Alberta.
“Our offices have been inundated with calls over the last year and it’s getting worse,” he said. “Two years ago, you didn’t see it. We need to dig in as to why it’s happening.”
The issue is not that critical cases are being denied care in Alberta. Clovechok says if you’re ‘code red’, you go to the nearest large hospital, and if you live in any of the border ridings, that hospital is in Alberta.
But patients requiring serious but not critical medical care, such as chemotherapy, are being denied treatment in Alberta.
Clovechok says and and fellow MLAs have had numerous meetings with doctors, hospital chiefs of staff, the RDEK board, and governments in both provinces.
“We’ve met with the BC Minister of Health. We didn’t get very far, but we have another meeting scheduled. We met with Alberta Health Services. The Alberta government has zero policy that denies patients. That is not how the Canadian health care system works. And Alberta bills B.C. for any health service provided and BC is paying the bills.”
Clovechok says it has nothing to do with any sort of ‘revenge’ for the pipeline controversy.
But nonetheless, “If you’re code red, you go to the closest hospital, but below that your are turned away and sent to Kelowna,” Clovechok says.
Which doesn’t work well for very many people.
“Many people in this area have family support in Calgary. They don’t in Vancouver or Kelowna. And once you’re released you have to find your way home.”
Rural health care access is an issue entirely different than health care for those in larger centres. And you can’t consider health care access in Kamloops, for example, rural health care, Clovechok says.
“This is a big deal. We are still digging into it, but there have got to be some solutions. It’s increasingly becoming a bigger issue. We are working very hard on it.”