Despite the fact Invermere’s community dialysis unit has been moved to other parts of the Kootenays over the summer, Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald is still fighting for its return to the upper Columbia Valley.
“The problem I have with how the dialysis unit was handled is that Interior Health solved their problem, which was mainly a personnel problem,” Mr. Macdonald told The Echo recently.
“In the first meetings I had on it, it was about money. Then it was about the number of (patients) who would’ve used it. Then it wasn’t about that — it was privately about something different than what was being said publicly.”
“All of it just points to the fact that Interior Health is going to be
looking at other changes that impact our communities, and there’s going to be a feedback loop. We’re going into a period when Interior Health has to make some major decisions.”
Mr. Macdonald says the province’s 2013 budget, which he scrutinized during the summer session of the Legislature, continues to show insufficient increases to health funding.
“For Interior Health, this year there’s an increase, next year there’ll be less of an increase, and the following year there’s again less of an increase,” he said. “They have to find savings.”
In July, he entered into the legislature a petition, signed by more than 900 local residents, opposing the removal of the unit from the Invermere and District Hospital.
Mr. Macdonald said he respects the administrative planning behind the decision, but said he believes it was not made for medical reasons.
“There’s a whole host of things that go into making such a decision, and you will have people making decisions in isolation that solve their problems. I would argue that’s what happened with the dialysis unit.”
“There were clear public views expressed by all of the elected officials in the region, across the political
spectrum — all of that feedback wasn’t addressed in any meaningful way,” he said. “That’s troubling.”
Equipment in the the dialysis unit was split up and shipped out by Interior Health, with the reverse osmosis machine going to Sparwood in late June, and the dialysis machine and remaining equipment going to Creston and Trail at the end of July.
“They moved it out; they can move it back,” he said. “My experience has been that you can be successful if you push hard, especially if you’re right — and I’m convinced we’re right.”