Concerns about Chetwynd health care, cost and more

I am writing this letter to share my concerns about the shortage of medical staff in Chetwynd. 

Our community is facing an egregious shortage of both doctors and nurses and there seems to be no relief in sight. 

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Northern Health passes the blame of the situation on to the community however, through conversations with a number of the nurses I have learned that they feel unsafe working at the hospital. The doctors and nurses are over worked and I fear that they will very quickly suffer from burnout. 

It is very concerning to be raising a family here because they are exhausted and unfortunately this leads to mistakes happening, mistakes with our health and wellness that we cannot and should not be expected to endure simply because our medical staff is being overtaxed and unsupported by Northern Health. 

Chetwynd is a high industry community and with industry we all know the potential for increased workplace accidents is increased. 

We need to have an emergency department running full staff. It is ridiculous that it is becoming common place to see Northern Health posting on Facebook pages that the shortage of physician coverage requires the temporary, planned closed and diversion of the Chetwynd Hospital and Health Centre! If we lived in Vancouver and they were shutting down the hospital due to lack of staff it would be front page news. 

The disheartening thing is here it is becoming our new normal because it has been happening so frequently. It is very scary to think about emergency situation where one of our community members does not come home because they did not have access to an emergency room and were diverted to Dawson Creek 100km away. 

Northern Health was not always in control of our medical services, towns looked after their hospitals and now they pay large sums of money to chief of staff:

Ciro Panessa $179,619

Penny Anguish $235,674

Angela DeSmit $205,520

Steve Raper $153,961

Margo Greenwood $127,152

Dr Ronald Chapman $284,847

Kelly Gunn $ 203,074

Fraser Bell $203,245

David Williams $203,861

Mark DeCroos $216,351

Cathy Ulrich $332,160

Total $2,345,464 (not included pension or benefits in there salary)

This list does not even included mangers of the hospital. Why was it that towns could run without all this management and highly paid administrators before? If it was any other job and the system was failing they would be fired. Instead they get recruitment bonus instead of listening to the problems and successfully recruiting and retaining employees.

I understand this problem is happening everywhere in Northern Health so maybe we need to start looking at management because the problem is not going to be solved until there are major changes. Perhaps Northern Health’s $811,000,000 budget should be allocated differently. Northern Health has 7000+ employees which includes only 250 Doctors and 125 specialists and surgeons, and 971 Nurses throughout Northern Health’s entire region. 

Anyone needing medical help appreciates highly trained qualified employees these people are priceless so shouldn’t more of the budget be spent on these types of positions rather than on administrators hefty salaries? It seems to be common sense that we do not need to be spending close to 2.3 million dollars per year on administration when we do not even have doctors or nurses in our communities! 

It would be very interesting to compare the difference in employment prior to 2001 when things changed and the management of our health care went regional. When the food being served to patients in the Chetwynd hospital was home made and employee moral was up because it was a desired job to work in the hospital. Now there are head hunters to recruit employees and temporary nurses that come at a very high price. This recruitment is necessary in part because the information trickling into the community is that that Northern Health as an employer is not a good place to work. It is not surprising that we do not have local people pursuing education in the health care field to come back and work for Northern Health. 

As a nurse said “this town is like working in a third world country”. The doctors and nurses we do have need to be commended for all that they do to make the best of this bad situation. That being said, I am scared that myself, my aging parents or my kids will get sick here and we cannot rely on receiving consistent quality care in our own community thanks to the failings of Northern Health

Jackalynn Redenbach - Chetwynd

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