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REPORTING · 18th October 2012
Walter McFarlane
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services saw two very different presentations regarding health care in Kitimat. The first came from Rob Goffinet, representing the Kitimat Health Advocacy Group. The second came from Ernie Archer. Goffinet presents to the committee every year on behalf of KHAG.

Goffinet stated he had several concerns. He told the committee: “With almost all of the proposed large economic development projects in BC being sited within the Northern Health Authorities Geographic Region, […] it’s absolutely crucial that the health care facilities of the North in general be maintained and, where necessary, expanded.”

He explained Kitimat has rapidly changing demographics which have required the expansion of the emergency room with a price tag of $300,000. He told them the Multilevel care is taking up 20-30% of the acute care beds. This impacts their operating rooms, with both an orthopedic and a general surgeon anchoring the hospital.

“With the sustaining capital fund cutbacks of almost 90% in the past month by Northern Health, this emergency room project in Kitimat came painfully close to running into difficulties. Only the advanced state of these capital plans saved this project form being delayed or cancelled,” said Goffinet.

Goffinet asked them to divert more capital funds across the northwest. He added, when asked by MLA Gary Coons later in the meeting, he expects Kitimat to blossom to 12,000 – 14,000 people which would require a fully functioning local hospital.

His next request was to advocate more funds for the construction and staffing of multilevel care facilities in the North. He would explain (again to Coons) the need multilevel care had not been considered when the hospital was built.

He expressed the community was worried that if too many acute care beds were used up, it would jepordize the two operating rooms in the hospital. Goffinet also stated that, in addition to the people coming into town for work, Kitimat is also bringing in a sizable retirement population.

Goffinet asked them to take all the presentations they would see across the north to heart and increase their budgets as Northern BC is seeing 90% of the heavy economic development in British Columbia. He also asked them to fund age friendly initiatives, come care services and aging in place initiatives.

Finally, Goffinet told the Finance Committee about all the initiatives which were being put into place to improve healthcare in Kitimat, the Hospital Foundation, the Max Lange fund and the Hospital Auxiliary.

Ernie Archer gave a presentation on something more disturbing, the food at the hospital. This topic has been, unlike the food, a hot topic at the recent Kitimat Health Advocacy Group meetings.

“I was in the hospital last year after an accident for 105 days, and I lost 33 pounds because the food is not edible,” said Archer. He said the hospital’s kitchen is worth $120,000 and it is only used to make coffee.

He started listing the examples.

“We had a case of Stinky food. It stunk so badly the family had to take it out of the room,” said Archer. The food was brought to Kitimat City Council in outrage and the last he heard, it was frozen in one of the freezers in Riverlodge. He stated that same night, a patient was given moldy chicken.

Archer shared another story. One patient got fish covered in meat sauce on it, it was supposed to be fresh but it was not edible. A woman feeding her father found the hamburger she was feeding him was still frozen.

Three dietitians are trying to convince Archer they are cooking in the kitchen. However, the food is constantly cold. He pointed out the people in multilevel care are paying $7000 - $8000 a month and are being fed garbage.

Archer told the panel 90% of the complaints coming out of the hospital were the food.

He stated he cannot have access to the contracts to find out what it is costing the hospital per day and patient. He wanted to know if food was coming from XL meets in Brooks or if the fish was coming from Fish Farms. He was able to get the menus and discovered only 4 meals of the month did not include mashed potatoes.

“I never got a quicker reaction in telling a dietitian in Prince George that I hoped the next time I meet her, I’m not sitting across the table from her at an inquest for why somebody died of malnutrition in Kitimat General Hospital,” concluded Archer.

Coons agreed and told Archer the communities should resourcing their food locally and getting fresh fruits and vegetables from Kelowna.
Hospital food ??
Comment by CEM on 18th November 2012
One can hardly call it food, sounds like I wouldn't feed my dogs this so called food.
Paying the amount of money the patients are paying, they might as well go on a cruise...it would be cheaper and get the best food. Somebody is taking an advantage of this situation and I don't understand when there is a kitchen in the hospital why they aren't making deliciious soups and buying food locally which would far more nutitious than what I am hearing is on the menu.
a hospital
Comment by richard on 18th October 2012
more a band-aid station.if your really sick,head south or you`ll die here.listen to the warning bells.head south. kitimat is not a hospital but a walk in clinic. if your interesred in prolonging your life,go to a real hospital.