The Invermere and District Hospital was the meeting place for staff, local politicians and board members from Interior Health to discuss any issues going into the future.
The members of the board were on a tour throughout the Interior Health region as a way to get out and tour the sites to get a first-hand look at the facilities.
“Another important aspect to the tours is to actually see the differences between places. Interior Health is different than the other health authorities. We have pockets of populations which are separated by rivers, large mountain passes…it helps us when we drive from site to site,” said President and CEO of Interior Health, Robert Halpenny.
“It was reassuring today that the issues that we heard are the issues we are trying to focus on. One of the focuses that I had is the whole issue of transportation. When I talk about transportation I am not just talking about moving people. I am also talking about moving information,” Halpenny said.
Halpenny explained how important the Telehealth program is to keep the flow of information working in the Interior Health region.
Telehealth uses video conferencing and supporting technologies to put patients in touch with health professionals across distances. It is especially useful in remote areas where patients have to travel long distances to meet health professionals according to the Province of British Columbia website. “To be able to move people’s information from one site to the next in a timely and accurate fashion so people do not have to go from one site to the next, or when they do go from one site to the next the information is there,” Halpenny said.
He went on to explain that moving people to where they need to be in a timely fashion is also a great concern with Interior Health.
“We have to take a step back and look at what our priorities were in this community. The priority we had in this community was residential beds. We needed them. The new site for the beds may impede the ability for Transport Canada to approve whatever we did on this site. We are working with Transport Canada and working with our component for the new residential care beds to see if we can in fact put a helipad on this site that meets Transport Canada regulations and also meets with STARS ability to land here,” Halpenny said.
He went on to explain that there were many issues with the helipad in Invermere that needed to be looked at. He explained that in other large centres like Kelowna they have only used the airport for landings and take-offs. He said that even though it may take time getting to or coming from the airport people are receiving treatment while they are in transport.
Another point Halpenny made was whether or not the helipad was the right place to be spending money. “Are we getting the most bang for our buck to help the most patients? That is a thing we are going to work on and decide if it is the right thing to do from a clinical perspective then we are going to work with the committee to move forward on the helipad.”
Gerry Taft, Mayor of the District of Invermere, attended a meeting with the representatives of Interior Health to discuss different issues.
“There really was not anything new to add. He (Halpenny) seemed to be very cautious and said they were not sure if STARS would land in this valley. We talked about the best way to spend the money from a political point of view. There was a bit of dragging that unfortunately I thought we were passed,” said Taft.
Taft went on to say that he is hopeful that the ministry will come up with the money but still feels there are many questions surrounding the plan to continue landing at the Invermere airport and using ground transport from there.
Halpenny also commended the local groups who go out and raise funds for the hospitals and other facilities. “I certainly recognize how much they do for the hospitals. The auxiliaries and gift shops through the health authorities are phenomenally valuable to us,” he said.
Erica Phillips is the Health Services Administrator for Invermere and Golden.
She felt the meetings were important because it gave the chance for everyone to put forward ideas and important goals heading into the future. “We are looking to provide the best services we can with funding that is available. We are looking at making sure we are all on the same page. We want to spend our dollars where they make the most sense and that we have the education to support the physical needs out there to provide the best service to the community,” Phillips said.