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REPORTING · 19th October 2010
Walter McFarlane
The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group met for their monthly meeting on October 16th. They were expecting quite a few extra people but there was still plenty of room around the table.

The topic which drew everyone together was the trouble of removing the ultrasound. KHAG Chair and City Councillor, Rob Goffinet reported that he and Councillor Randy Halyk had discussed several of KHAG’s concerns to Dr. Jago and Cathy Ulrich during the Union of BC Municipalities conference a few weeks ago.

“We also focused on the emergent issue of 48 hours previously, Monday the 27th, about the official, in a letter to the union, of a technician floor position, RE Ultrasound was deleted in the hospital,” said Goffinet. “We raised this with the Chief Executive Officers at UBCM in Whistler.”

According to Goffinet, Ulrich and Jago were aware of it and told them this was a hospital matter which could not be discussed. The Councillors stated they understood and expressed they were surprised along with the community that a basic service was deleted in a way which made the rest of the services look like they were in jeopardy. It was not evident to the Doctors, Union or Kitimat in general that the position would be refilled until a letter was received after the fact.

One citizen wanted to know if this is the way NHA will go about their business in the future as this went against what KHAG has been working towards.

Goffinet said he was informed that NHA would look into it. He and Anne Berrisford met with Jonathon Cooper on Friday, October 8th to discuss these concerns about termination without communication. “He agreed, in short answer, that it was a lack of communication,” said Berrisford.

“We asked, it would be in the best interest of all the parties concerned that this sudden presentation of an item was counter productive; I think we got an agreement,” said Goffinet.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan said she asked Ulrich ‘point blank’ about this issue. “I said, was this a directive to Jonathon Cooper from the NHA that he just went and did it. She said, I have no comment, I have no answer. I said: that gives me my answer. She didn’t say anymore,” said Monaghan.

Dr. Derrick Carstons confirmed there was no discussion with the medical staff about the removal of this service and the doctors were upset by this. Several are considering no longer meeting with Cooper.

Carstons stated the ultrasound has been reinstated because of the union intervention; however, its service has been reduced at the hospital to 3 days of regular shifts and will on call for two days. It used to be four regular days and 1 day on call.

Another resident of Kitimat saw this as a chipping away of the local services. Mary Montaro wanted to know if the person who did the ultrasound was still in the community. Goffinet said the rumour he had left the community was not true.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked if this would have any effect on surgery or would it be business as usual. It would be business as usual. Councillor Randy Halyk wanted to know if other specialty services would be effect. The loss of Ultrasound would have affected other services if it was gone, but with it sticking around, they will not be affected.

At this same meeting KHA Chair Rob Goffinet announced that Grace O’Connor and Mary Ellen Byrne had been nominated as candidates for the Northern Health Authority Board.

“They have been accepted by the Province, forwarded by NHA,” said Goffinet. “[The NHA Board] is presently looking for one from the Northwest, our corner of the North.”

Goffinet mentioned that the NHA was attempting to get a First Nations Representative but these two could be considered and they are appointed positions by the Premier’s office.

Councillor Randy Halyk, who was at the meeting, commented that whether or not one of these people are selected depends on the politics. Mayor Joanne Monaghan, also in attendance pointed out Northern Health could appoint these people.

It was also stated Kitimat was promised a seat on the board. Goffinet reiterated these candidates are not Kitimat candidates, they are team players who will work for the whole northern area rather then just Kitimat.