The shortage of multi-level care beds here was top of the agenda when Kitimat Health Advocacy Group chairman Rob Goffinet and acting municipal manager Walter McLellan met with Northern Health Authority board chairman Dr. Charles Jago and CEO Cathy Ulrich.
That meeting took place during the North Central Local Government Association conference in Prince Rupert and had been requested by the NHA, Goffinet reported at the May 14 KHAG meeting.
Noting the MLC wing at Kitimat General was currently full, he said that meant 20 to 25 per cent of the acute care beds in the hospital were filled with people who should be in the MLC.
“What that does is stress out all the other services,” he added.
And it threatened surgical services. “You can have surgeons, you can have an operating room, you can have everything going, but if you don’t have beds, you can’t do (surgical) procedures.”
That in turn put surgery and the operating room at KGH in jeopardy, services that anchored KGH.
Goffinet said they had offered NHA “long term possibilities for joint study and action on increasing the number of multi-level beds in Kitimat.”
They had also reminded Ulrich and Jago that KHAG was ready to offer incentives, as it had successfully done with nurses in the past, to fill “crucial” gaps in staffing at KGH.
That said, they had acknowledged staffing levels at the moment were good and recruitment was going on in one or two areas where needed.
And chemotherapy and ultra sound, after “bumps” last year, were now functioning “and people were not complaining.”
Returning to the MLC problem, Goffinet said they had showed Ulrich and Jago the Retire in Kitimat booklet to underline the fact that the number of MLC beds and specialists that could be brought into the hospital was “absolutely crucial” because Kitimat had not only the natural aging of its population, it was also enticing more seniors to move here.
City councillor Mario Feldhoff asked if Goffinet, at that meeting, had got back any feedback of the beds issue.
“In those meetings they never commit to anything,” Goffinet replied.
However they did acknowledge the demographics of Kitimat “will necessitate construction.”
But that was also true of other communities in NHA’s jurisdiction.