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REPORTING · 26th January 2011
Walter McFarlane
The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group met on Saturday, January 15th despite the falling snow. Still, there were quite a few notable people missing from the table. Chief among them was Dr. Moira Stillwell who is running for leadership of the Liberal party. She was cautioned against traveling the roads to Kitimat in the snow. Present from Terrace however, was Dorothy Schiller, a representative of NHA.

After introductions and the approval of the minutes, the meeting moved onto the Kitimat General Hospital Staffing Specialty Services Updates, which is the focus of the KHAG meetings.

Schiller reported that Jonathon Cooper, who was not present, had been able to reduce the number of agency nurses, which are nurses who fill temporary positions, in the hospital.

“I think that’s a big plus for the community. It brings a little more stability to acute care patients,” said Schiller. “We have been able to hire a number of new LPNs who just graduated so we’ll be able to augment our nursing staff as well as our home support staff.”

Rob Goffinet went through a report from Cooper. Since the last meeting, Cooper has met with Mayor Joanne Monaghan and Councillors Goffinet and Corrine Scott on the topics brought forward at the last meeting.

He reported training opportunities had become available to all staff and opportunities for training events in Kitimat were maximized. Goffinet cited a Cardiac Seminar the Doctors and NHA are trying to put on during the summer as an example.

Cooper’s report went on to talk about how NHA representatives are meeting with project managers for the projects which are planned for Kitimat in 2011. The meetings relate to health care issues for their respective projects.

In addition, they are working with NHA communications to create a Kitimat Community Health Webpage. Goffinet pointed out they had a Facebook proposal later on their agenda as well.

The report went on. There were meetings on December 15th within the hospital on the topics of perceived health care concerns about ‘people falling through the cracks in the health care system,’ maximizing communications and support to practitioners, and seizing opportunities for promotion in community events to promote health and health services.

They are trying to organize a retiree discussion group with the retirees of CAW 2301. He also stated the NHA is now enforcing a no smoking policy in the hospital which is applicable even to staff. In addition, they are providing advice and products to assist in nicotine replacement. The no smoking policy is discussed on admission into the hospital.

Cooper reported the issues of long term and multi level care are being reviewed by NHA. He said the standards for health keeping are set provincially and Kitimat has an excellent record. NHA will be investing $117,738 into the hospital for 2011. This is money in addition to the money provided for equipment and will be allocated for equipment and training.

He asked for feed back and clarification on any of the items at the next meeting’s agenda.

One woman questioned who enforces the non smoking rule at the hospital. She said there was smoking all over the place. She knew of people who were admitted to the hospital who had not had the rules explained.

Dr. Carstens reported there has not been any increase to the number of days or the amount of time for the ultrasound. The doctors would like to see an increase in the local lab services although they expect it will decrease later this year.

When asked about why tests were not being done in Kitimat, Carstons explained there was a machine which did a full range of tests but was getting out of date. They are getting a new chemistry analyzer but the older machine did more tests. One such test is how well diabetes has been controlled over the last 6 months. These tests are done else where.

Barb Campbell compared health care to a brick wall. Slowly, the mortar is being taken away and the wall comes down. “That’s been my whole thing about our facilities and health care in Kitimat ... we must maintain what we’ve got and what we’ve got is not what we had 4-5 years ago because ultrasound, a little of that mortar has been taken out. Eventually, we will not have a facility that will give us adequate health care in Kitimat,” said Campbell.

Carstens stated there were three pieces of equipment in the lab under discussion, a chemical analyzer, a NSA machine and the microbiology machine. The latter was lost a year ago due to centralization. The machine was purchased by the Max Lange Foundation 5 years ago and is sitting in the lab not being used. Now, one machine does 85% of the work, the machine which does 15% of the work is what they will lose.

There was a lot of concern about KHAG not being able to do anything to help the hospital. It was suggested they go public on the business in the form of letters to the media.

Goffinet asked for a motion. Campbell stated she has asked to see their 5 and 10 year budget plan for the Kitimat Hospital. She said they needed to see the budget and business plan so they could see what is coming in the next five years. She said the plan is a public document and the community needs to see the plan.

The motion was amended to request to include the 1 year plan see the plans within the next 2 weeks. The motion was carried.

Schiller was given the floor to speak about community and home care. She said Kitimat is no worse than any other community with regard to residential care beds. She said other communities need more residential care beds as well.

She said their home support staffing was stable and were hard working. Home support had the most requests for help in the morning and evening, although some times they are under utilized by the community. She said beds in multilevel care were at a premium so they have to ask people to temporarily go somewhere else until a bed becomes free. Currently, there are 15 on a waitlist to get in and 3-4 in acute care.

They are re-formatting an adult activation program that will be run with Mountainview Lodge. They hope to have it open at the beginning of March. It will run 5 days a week and will be available to people in the community, as well as residents of Delta King and Mountainview Lodge.

There was also talk about the new care building in Kitamaat village. Schiller suggested looking at the possibility of transferring Haisla living in assisted living to the new building and freeing up some beds.