COLUMNS: Thrilled to see hospital plans moving forward

Access to the best possible health care has been one of my biggest priorities.

Ensuring everyone in our community has access to the best possible health care has been one of my biggest priorities as MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.

Since 1963, Cariboo Memorial Hospital has provided high-quality care to local residents — but we all know this aging facility has been in need of improvements for some time.

That’s why I was thrilled to hear Health Minister Adrian Dix announce that the redevelopment of the hospital will proceed. The NDP are following through on the commitment made by our BC Liberal government in March 2017 to expand and improve the hospital. Our government put a lot of work into getting this project to the concept plan stage, and I’m pleased to see the NDP continue that work by approving it to move to the business plan stage.

This is great news for our entire community and in particular, for the hard-working doctors, nurses and other medical staff who already deliver outstanding care to patients and their families. We need to support that great work with modern facilities and equipment to help these professionals address the diverse health care needs of our population — from our valued seniors to their children and grandchildren.

It’s so important that our residents be able to access these services close to home.

There are definitely more serious medical situations which require patients to travel to other communities, and we know that additional stress can be such a burden. It’s my hope that with an improved and expanded local hospital, fewer people will have to experience that stress. This hospital project will address the current and future health care needs of our community, and as your MLA I will continue to monitor its progress through to its completion. I look forward to celebrating with you when that happens.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

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