Editorial: Health warning: read between the lines

Interior Health is at it again — this time with a focus on lab services.

Interior Health is at it again — this time with a focus on lab services. In just the last few years, the dispatch for local ambulance services was moved from Cranbrook to Kamloops and the Invermere & District Hospital lost its dialysis unit, and now lab services in the East Kootenay are coming under scrutiny.

According to Interior Health’s regional director for lab services, Marty Woods, the main underlying reason for needing to adopt a “different business model” when it comes to the lab services is staffing.

The same reason was told to the Columbia Valley by Interior Health two years ago when the decision was made to remove the dialysis unit from the local hospital.

Mr. Woods says laboratory technologists are in short demand, and any technologist will tell you the same thing, but for the opposite reason — that not enough are being hired, resulting in understaffed, overworked health care employees who are taking on more than their fair share of responsibility as positions get eliminated.

But once again, Interior Health is touting problems with recruitment and retention as the reasons for having to change the way services are being delivered to a rural area.

Without any mention of the BC Jobs Plan — the government’s plan to keep B.C.’s economy “diverse, strong and growing” — or B.C.’s Skills for Jobs (the targeted focus on training for high-demand jobs), the solution appears to be centralization and/or filling these positions with technology.

No doubt about it, health care eats up a substantial amount of B.C.’s budget and these costs will continue to grow as the number of seniors in B.C. is expected to reach 1.5 million in 20 years, but centralized lab services will result in a tremendous drop in the quality of care currently offered locally, and residents should speak up and make sure their feedback is heard before it’s too late.