B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake was in Williams Lake Tuesday, touring Cariboo Memorial Hospital and Deni House, meeting with Interior Health, the hospital chief of staff, MLA Donna Barnett and Mayor Cobb to get a feel for how the needs of the community are being met.
“One of the main concerns I see in many communities around B.C. are challenges with primary care – making sure we have enough physicians to look after people. We are working closely with the division of family practice in the Cariboo that’s working well with Interior Health,” Lake said.
“We’ve heard some very positive things about the work they’re doing. That’s helping to connect patients with physicians. It’s also working with Interior Health to develop integrated teams of care so that it’s not just a family physician, but also other partners in health care that are there to provide services.”
Another issue is health for an aging population. “Looking at seniors care is very important,” he said.
“As many people know, we’re trying to provide services for people at home as much as possible, to keep them at home longer so they don’t have to go into residential care or into the hospital at an earlier time.”
He said the concept plan is in place for the Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment project, adding that Interior Health will now have to advance that to the next stage.
“Any large hospital redevelopment is a very complex procedure: you go through different stages,” Lake said. “It’s usually the concept plan, then they’ll look at phasing any redevelopment and create a business plan for each of those phases.
“I’ll be getting an update today about where we are with Cariboo Memorial,” Lake said. “I know we’ve had some work done on the emergency department, which has been helpful, but today I’m going to be touring the entire hospital to understand what the needs are in terms of the rest.”
In regards to local laundry service jobs being taken away, he said that all health authorities are trying to find ways to be as efficient as possible and making sure they keep money in front line health care.
“If there is an opportunity to do things like laundry in a more efficient way, to save money, that is what they’re trying to do. They haven’t had the responses back yet, or at least haven’t evaluated them, and I’ve made it clear that it has to make sense. It has to be a common sense approach that is going to save money over the long term so we can continue to preserve front line health care,” he continued.
“We have to use the tax payers’ money as efficiently as possible, but I know people are concerned about local jobs, and I think that lens has to be put on any decision that Interior Health makes.”
He said that Interior Health is doing very well in planning for more community health services. “This visit is a great opportunity for me to see what’s going on in Williams Lake. We’re working on these issues all over the province, especially in smaller communities, to make sure people have the care they need close to home.”