Waiting times worsen, IHA says

Waits at the lab, diagnostic imaging, ultrasound services, and recruitment continue to pose ongoing challenges for Interior Health.

Waits at the lab, diagnostic imaging, ultrasound services, and recruitment continue to pose ongoing challenges for Interior Health in Williams Lake, said IH acute health services administrator Allison Ruault during a presentation at the regular council meeting held April 17.

Waits at the lab have been longer and bigger than she’s ever seen, Ruault said.

“One of the things they’ve seen since we put in the new computer system, which is really working well, is that it does take longer, so they are working to correct that.”

Williams Lake is getting some additional staff to address the problems with the computer system and some of the general work load.

A slight increase in a lab technician and an increase in laboratory assistance, and the possibility of extended hours, including Saturdays will hopefully help, Ruault said.

The lab has had a restructuring across the authority.

Each site used to have a manager for the lab, but that is changing; Carol McIntyre, who was the lab manager in Williams Lake, will now be responsible for overseeing lab services in Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Merritt.

Diagnostic imaging has lost a technician and while some applications have been submitted, in the meantime coverage has been provided on a contract basis.

The hospital foundation trust continues to raise funds toward a digital mammography machine and has raised approximately $200,000.

“Their next fundraiser is the Taste of BC Wine Tasting event on May 5,” Ruault said.

For ultrasound, some patients have been travelling to Quesnel where there are three ultrasound technicians, while others who need ultrasound more urgently have been covered locally when a contracted technician is in place.

When it comes to recruitment, six new nursing grads were hired recently from Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus and Quesnel, which has helped to “reasonably” stabilize the operating room and obstetrics.

“The emergency and intensive care unit are still an issue and we are critically short three permanent positions.”

The hospital is without an internist on staff, but a pediatrician has been hired from South Africa who will be arriving at the end of May.

The community has been without one for six years.