Williams Lake may benefit from health funds

The recent announcement by the province of $10 million to fund a B.C.-wide program to benefit rural communities by improving patient access to rural emergency services could benefit Williams Lake.

The recent announcement by the province of $10 million to fund a B.C.-wide program to benefit rural communities by improving patient access to rural emergency services could benefit Williams Lake.

The Cariboo Memorial Hospital is one of 60 sites that currently uses a fee-for-service model for its emergency department physician remuneration.

It has been identified by the Ministry of Health as one of the many that requires supplementary funding to ensure emergency services continue to be delivered 24/7.

In June it was reported that local emergency department physicians were working with the Interior Health Authority to create an alternate method of payment to the fee-for-service model as the lower number of patients in emergency during certain hours meant under fee for service physicians would receive limited remuneration.

“Interior Health had been in discussion with emergency physicians in Williams Lake about an alternate payment contract and we’ve also had some initial discussions around this funding that was announced Monday,” said Jeremy Etherington, vice-president medicine and quality for the IHA.

Etherington confirmed the announced funding would translate to an additional $200,000 a year for emergency room physicians to help ensure 24/7 coverage.

He added that the physicians have the “best understanding” of patient visits in terms of high and low flow and therefore the health authority will then work to determine how to keep physicians in the emergency department. Etherington expects Williams Lake physicians and the health authority to submit a joint proposal to the Ministry of Health for the available funds.

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