KHAG hosts MLA for meeting to air health concerns

A special meeting of the Kitimat Health Advocacy Group (KHAG) had members meeting with area MLA Robin Austin.

A special meeting of the Kitimat Health Advocacy Group (KHAG) had members meeting with area MLA Robin Austin to air their concerns about health services.

“What we wanted to do is talk to Robin about our local future as it related to provincial support,” said KHAG chairperson Rob Goffinet.

At centre was a long simmering issue of acute care beds in Kitimat General Hospital being used for multi-level care purposes.

Goffinet said that the use of acute care beds for non-acute purposes is not a crisis, “but you can see it’s overloading.”

The health care system is seeing stresses locally, he said, from a larger demographic of people living in Kitimat for retirement rather than moving away.

“Other places down south have been dealing with this for years. Kitimat is now entering that shockwave,” he said.

Austin recognized the concerns regarding the beds at the hospital.

“The biggest [concern]…[was] around not having sufficient assisted living and long-term care beds,” he told the Sentinel about the meeting with KHAG. “That means seniors are kept in acute care beds way longer than is necessary and clogs up the whole system.”

Calling it a waste of resources, he said he continues to lobby ministry officials to have more resources put into the northwest — both in Kitimat and  Terrace.

He said recent decisions such as the announcement of a new hospital in Burns Lake is still good news here because it means capital projects move up the list.

If land permits, he said he’d like to see Kitimat’s multi-level care facility expanded but also said more housing facilities need to be built as well.

“If [retirees are] staying that means we’ve got to change our perspective as to what we deliver in terms of health care and having adequate seniors facilities is the number one priority.”