A commitment to patient care and an emphasis on expanding community services are priorities the Columbia Valley community holds near its heart, something Chris Mazurkewick, Interior Health president and CEO, learned when he visited the Invermere and District Hospital on Tuesday, March 8th to gain a sense of the community’s needs.
He spent five and a half days touring health care facilities in Invermere, Revelstoke, Golden, Sparwood, Cranbrook and Creston between March 6th and 11th.
“We’re taking time to stop in each community to meet with local elected officials, physicians, local management, some staff, tour the facilities and have an opportunity to listen to them regarding what they wish to tell us and what they want to ask us,” Mazurkewick told The Echo. “It gives us a flavour because you can sit and read reports and have formal meetings, but you get a feel for the place when you’re actually there. You feel it, you see it and you do those lengthy drives through the mountain passes and the beautiful valley from Golden to here. It’s a great little drive.”
In the Columbia Valley, Mazurkewick spent 45 minutes meeting with physicians; 45 minutes with staff and administration; 20 minutes with local elected officials (District of Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, Village of Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras, Regional District of East Kootenay Area F Director Wendy Booth and Area G Director Gerry Wilkie); and completed tours of both the hospital as well as the public health unit.
“I think the physician group was probably the best physician group in terms of who we met with because they were very clear and succinct about what they thought was working well and where they thought there were opportunities for improvement,” said Mazurkewick. “I think the management people were pretty much aligned with the physicians. You’ve got a beautiful facility here and we toured through the residential care and I think it’s a great residential care facility.”
He explained that hospital transfers were an example of what the physicians and management felt the Invermere and District Hospital could improve upon.
“They gave me three or four items to follow up with the ambulance service and talk with the ambulance service about how to support them,” said Mazurkewick, noting some of the surrounding areas need to be mindful about the time zones in the East Kootenay region and information about the air ambulance as opposed to the use of STARS.
“I think they were good requests and appropriate that I get involved to try to make their life easier. Whether I can or not remains to be seen.”
He was pleased to learn that the health care providers in the valley were happy about the First Nations clinic in the area.
“I took it as a very progressive group that is also a very co-operative group that IH can support,” he said. “We can assist them and they can assist us, and we can work collaboratively for the benefit of Invermere. I thought they were very thoughtful and balanced in their views, and I was impressed.”