Shortages still an issue: Interior Health

City council heard Tuesday night that keeping medical staff levels in Williams Lake continues to be a challenge.

City council heard Tuesday night that keeping medical staff levels in Williams Lake continues to be a challenge.

“When we get staff here we keep them, but recruitment is always an issue,” Interior Health’s acute health service administrator Allison Ruault told council.

At a recent Interior Health dinner some nurses from Williams Lake were honoured for 24, 30, 35 and even 40 years of service.

While there has been some success recruiting nurses, it has been especially tough over the last six to eight months, as “serious” as she’s ever seen it. There is a shortage of nurses in specialized areas, she said.

Not only that, Ruault described the lab at Cariboo Memorial Hospital as “tight” and recommended people needing lab work go later in the day so that patients who have fasted can be served first.

Ruault said new physicians have moved to work in the community, but local physicians as a whole recognize recruitment efforts have to be continued to fill the gaps being created through retirement.

Last summer two master of business administration students were hired to research recruitment needs for the Williams Lake area. One of the recommendations of their final report was for Interior Health to hire a part-time recruitment person in Williams Lake to help sell the community.

“That person could help organize site visits,” Ruault said, noting that Interior Health has a full-time recruitment person who is dealing with thousands of applications.

When Coun. Laurie Walters asked what council can do to help with recruitment, Ruault said over the last six months Mayor Kerry Cook, the school district and a number of players have been extremely responsive and have met with potential physicians to talk about Williams Lake.

“We take the community for granted,” Ruault explained, adding it’s more than hiring people to fill positions — it’s also about recruiting medical professionals to live in the community.

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