This is a busy time of year, but I find it’s also a time of reflection, particularly as January marks the end of my two-year term as chair and my 10 years serving on the Interior Health board. In an effort to decrease demand on hospital and residential services, we continue to shift our focus to integrated primary and community care. We are developing new approaches and solutions that will benefit patients while making our health care system more sustainable.
This year also had good news for individuals that may require residential care with the announcement of 243 additional beds, including 48 in Kamloops, 60 in Salmon Arm, 70 in Williams Lake plus 14 beds approved in 100 Mile House in existing space.
Since June, MyHealthPortal has been introduced at nine hospital locations, with more to come. More than 2,300 patients have enrolled to obtain secure 24-hour access to their health information via their smart phone, tablet or computer through a portal from the IH website, inviting patients to take more ownership of their health care.
Highlights in the Cariboo region include the 50th anniversary of 100 Mile District General Hospital, and the purchase of a new digital mammography machine in Williams Lake, funded by the Cariboo Foundation Hospital Trust and Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District. This machine will make a difference for many women in the area by providing enhanced screening mammography services.
While the last year had several milestones that are to be celebrated, it also had its share of heart-break, as we saw record numbers of overdose deaths. Each of these deaths represents a loss no doubt deeply felt in many homes this holiday season. In response, we’ve established an Emergency Incident Management Team to focus on enhanced fatal and non-fatal overdose surveillance, and increased accessibility to harm reduction tools including Take Home Naloxone (THN) kits.
As I look back on my time with Interior Health, what really stands out for me is the people I have met. My visits to rural sites and remote First Nations communities were always engaging and I found it an honour to be welcomed. The employees, physicians and volunteers throughout IH are truly first-rate and I will always be proud of the time I served on the board, and everything we have accomplished together. Wishing you all the best in 2017.
Erwin Malzer is the board chair with Interior Health.