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MLAs call for fix of crisis at Royal Inland Hospital

The Kamloops-North and South Thompson MLAs said the time is now
Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Black Press Media file)

MLAs Peter Milobar (Kamloops-North Thompson) and Todd Stone (Kamloops-South Thompson) are calling on the Interior Health Authority to make changes at Royal Inland Hospital to meet the needs of the city and region, and call on Health Minister Adrian Dix to fix the “crisis.”

The two have expressed a “loss of confidence in the ability and commitment” of IH to do so.

Recently, the health authority put out an urgent call to all health-care workers in the region, looking for help to address the critical staff shortage at RIH.

“Our health care providers at RIH are doing their best under very challenging circumstances, and we offer them a heartfelt thank you for their hard work, dedication and professionalism,” said Stone in a press release. “It’s for them and for patients that we continue to press this NDP government and IHA to take responsibility for the chronic mismanagement that has left RIH in the position it is in.”

He added workplace conditions are burning out nurses and health-care professionals, and called on the authorities to take immediate action, as these conditions are causing workers to “leave their jobs in droves.”

Over the last few weeks, nurses have been speaking out anonymously over various platforms. One noted “nurses are beyond done,” exhausted and defeated. They note every shift they’re on is “grossly short-staffed.”

“We need strategies set in place to retain our current staff, to stop the hemorrhaging of experience from this hospital,” the press release reads.

READ MORE: Communities in Interior Health feeling effects of nursing shortage

Royal Inland Hospital recently closed the Coronary Care Unit, meaning the loss of four critical care beds, and the pediatrics unit has experienced temporary closures. Wait times are getting longer for surgeries or they are performed in neighbouring hospitals by Kamloops doctors, according to the press release.

Due to emergency room closures throughout the region, such as at the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater, the Ashcroft Hospital and Community Health Care Centre and the Barriere Health Centre, the ER at RIH is facing increased pressure with minimal staff.

In response, the B.C. Liberal MLAs are proposing: a concrete human resources plan for RIH focusing on retention and recruitment, including a strategy for short, medium and long-term solutions; replacement of the current HR administration structure at RIH, modelling Kelowna General Hospital; immediate addition of operating hours in Kamloops; resolution to the family doctor crisis; and regular public communication by IH’s CEO and all levels of management.

“RIH is one of the two tertiary hospitals in IHA and it’s one of the largest and busiest trauma hospitals in B.C., ” said Milobar in a press release. “What’s happening at RIH is inexcusable. Staff shortages are getting worse by the day, patients are suffering, the workplace has been described as toxic — yet IHA administration continues to publicly downplay concerns, if acknowledging them at all.”

He added the crisis can no longer be blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires and floods.

“Instead of more NDP rhetoric, we need results now to stem this growing crisis at RIH.”

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