Photo: castanet staff
A Kamloops councilman said a meeting between community leaders and the province’s health minister to discuss closing rural health services and communicating with health officials had met with a positive response.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Sadie Hunter gave an overview of the meeting that took place at last week’s annual meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
Hunter said she attended the meeting with Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell and another Port McNeil councilman as part of a newly formed health alliance.
“Our discussion was really about communication,” Hunter said.
“Which I raised, particularly as a partner in the home health agency, in the TNRD [Thompson-Nicola Regional District]Realizing that closures in smaller communities like Ashcroft, Barriere and Clearwater are affecting health care resources here in Kamloops has really been the frustration with the medical communication we’re getting between the Department of Health of the Interior and the Mayor and Council,” Hunter said.
Hunter said she also stressed a willingness to work with the ministry and health officials to remove barriers to full staffing of rural health facilities.
She said this would include help with finding housing, day care and other resources to support those who might otherwise be able to work.
“I was able to bring this information and viewpoint to the meeting on behalf of Kamloops. … Her answer was affirmative. And I think that as we move forward with this alliance, we will be able to continue working together,” Hunter said.
A coalition of small-town mayors and politicians, including Blackwell, has formed to address the urgent health crisis in rural communities across the province.
Blackwell has raised concerns about the ongoing closure of the emergency room at the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater and told Castanet Kamloops in a previous interview that residents are concerned and frustrated at the closure.
Taking to social media, Blackwell said the aim of the rural caucus is to put energy into solutions.
“To shed light on the situation may be viewed as criticism, but that is not the intent,” Blackwell wrote.
“The intention is that the energy of all levels of government be fully focused on this crisis. Through advocacy, I’ve seen this happen, but it needs to happen across the province.”