It appears that Northern Health would rather Mile Zero residents drive to Alberta or Fort St. John, than refer patients to Peace Regional MRI in Dawson Creek.
“We’d like to build partnerships right here,” says Blaine Curry with Peace Regional MRI.
Curry says in the last calendar year the business services more than 1,000 patients, but Curry says that is just the tip of the service iceberg.
“There are six to eight month waiting lists with Northern Health, versus a week or two here.”
Curry says he has reached out to local politicians, but many have not jumped to any kind of defense of the clinic, or outward support. While some say that politicians are acting like the DC hospital project is in hostage over the issue, Curry does agree this may be the political focus.
“Local politicians seem concerned with the hospital project.”
Pouce Coupe Mayor Lorraine Michetti says the issue is 100 per cent political.
“Northern Health is aware of it, they refuse to use it because it is private,” she says.
If Northern Health seems to expect people to go to FSJ or Alberta – why the silence from South Peace or Mile Zero politicians?
“People don’t want to piss off (BC Minister of Health) Adrian Dix,” she says.
After this story broke, Mayor Dale Bumstead added what he called context to the issue on a social media group.
“The Minister was very explicit that the government were not going to allow access to health services based on someone jumping que because they can pay for diagnostic services.”
“The local delegation made the case to the Minister, and it is certainly the Minister’s decision.”
Curry says the service is right here Mile Zero.
“The expertise is right here and MRI needs are not going away.”
Peace Regional MRI opened in late 2016, expecting a then-moratorium on applications for diagnostic outpatient ultrasound facilities to end. In May of 2017, this moratorium was extended to June 2020. Provincial officials said at the time it was due to a lack of ultrasound sonographers in the province.
Attempts to get Northern Health to return messages over email and phone lines, to speak on this matter thus far have been unsuccessful. This is a developing story.