Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) is one of the main topics Williams Lake City Council, the Cariboo Regional District and the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District CCRHD brought forward this week in discussions with Interior Health and the Minister of Health at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in Victoria.
John Massier, CCRHD chair, says the meeting with Interior Health went as good as could be expected.
“We spent the half hour talking about how we could move the Cariboo Memorial Master Plan forward. We laid out our case regarding the underfunding of capital projects in the south and central Cariboo,” Massier told the Tribune.
Massier said he told Dr. Halpenny the people of the region deserved to be given a straight answer about IH’s plans and where CMH sits on their priority list.
“I questioned him about how IH’s own July 2012 Service Plan for 2012-2015 can have a list of nearly $900 million of capital projects over $2 million and Cariboo Memorial is not even mentioned. I have no idea how big their list is for capital projects under $2 million but if it is the same size with the current annual funding children born this year at CMH may well be of voting age before we see the improvements.”
Massier has asked IH to go back to its budget for 2013 to try and find the necessary dollars to move the plan along to the next stage, which would be to complete detailed functional planning.
“This would give us the information we need to see if there are any possibilities of phasing the work in stages that could have a better chance of getting funded in the near future. I suspect we still have a long road ahead of us to get the Cariboo Memorial Hospital Master Plan successfully completed.”
Before the UBCM, Mayor Kerry Cook said action needs to be taken to ensure the hospital sees capital improvements.
“We met a number of times with Interior Health and the ministers, but we’re hearing that Interior Health is the decision maker that makes the recommendations to the finance committee at the province and we’re saying it’s time that Williams Lake gets the necessary dollars to see those capital improvements to our hospital.”
At its Sept. 18 meeting, Williams Lake City Council unanimously passed a resolution that IH and the Minister of Health be asked to provide their 60 per cent share of the project funding.
The resolution also endorsed the formation of a lobbying committee comprised of the CCRHD board, Doctor’s Association, union, seniors and other stakeholders that will communicate to government the need for the hospital’s redevelopment.
“We’re going political here,” Cook said.
In a letter to council Massier compared the dollars spent by Interior Health to those spent by Northern Health on the region and identified a big difference in per-capita funding.
Northern Health represents about 23,000 residents, which is just over a third of the people living in the region. Interior Health is responsible for about 40,000, nearly two thirds.
“Over a 10-year period Interior Health has spent roughly $10,937,000 or $273.42 per resident of the South and Central Cariboo, while Northern Health in the same 10-year period has spent roughly $21,400,000 or $930.50 per resident of the North Cariboo for shared capital improvements with the Regional Hospital District,” Massier said.
He also said it doesn’t look any better when he compares how much money the hospital district has contributed to projects.
Under Interior Health the CCRHD contributed $9,343,049 toward $20,279,658 in total project costs. Under Northern Health it contributed $13,793,114 toward $35,200,389 of total project costs.
“I want to get the information out there to show this is all part of the discussion we need to have.”
The CRD has had discussions over the last few months about the possibility of moving entirely into NH; however, Massier said at this point the focus is on talking with IH about how to get the CMH master plan moving forward.
At the Sept. 18 meeting, Williams Lake City Council passed a motion unanimously in favour of Williams Lake and the Central Cariboo remaining in IH and does not support any discussions about moving the boundaries of health authorities at this time.
“We want to accomplish getting the capital investment we need for our health services and working with regional partners, but the issue of moving boundaries is not a priority at this time,” Cook said.