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West Chilcotin residents, health care staff want new Tatla Lake clinic

The West Chilcotin Health Care Society launched a letter-writing campaign
Nurse Joanne Fosbery, nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon and administrator LeeAnne Wright with the bulging box of letters asking the provincial government for a new West Chilcotin Health Centre building in Tatla Lake. (Photo submitted)

More than 250 letters from residents and health care workers in the West Chilcotin about the need for a new clinic at Tatla Lake are earmarked for B.C.’s premier and minister of health.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson picked up the letters in person on Friday, July 7, and promised to hand deliver them hopefully some time next week.

“The staff there does an incredible job with what little they have,” Doerkson said. “They have been asking for a new clinic for a long time.”

Doerkson said there is nothing else until Alexis Creek for health care and the day he was at Tatla Lake the clinic was busy.

“The phones were ringing and there were people coming for appointments. Obviously it helps take some pressure off of our community [in Williams Lake] as well.”

He said he will be advocating for a new clinic to move forward.

“I did talk with the premier about it when he was here in Williams Lake last month. Of all the projects out there, this is an affordable one for our communities and would benefit everyone in the West Chilcotin.”

Family nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon is a member of the West Chilcotin Health Care Society and lives nearby. She said the society organized the letter-writing campaign over the last two weeks with drop-offs at various businesses in the region.

While Doerkson helped stuff letters into envelopes on Friday, she and some of the other staff told him about their dilemmas.

“We talked about the challenges of providing emergency and primary care in a remote setting - challenges with communications, transport of patients to higher level of care, recruitment and retention of health care providers, and inadequate space for the expanded needs of the community,” Gordon said. “We also talked about the unique challenge of having arsenic-contaminated non-potable water in the clinic.”

Letters have continued to arrive, which Gordon said will also be forwarded to Doerkson.

Last year, students at Tatla Lake Elementary and Junior Secondary School also wrote letters to Interior Health advocating for a new clinic.

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READ MORE: Chilcotin area school wins award for efforts to engage local seniors, community

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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