The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group (KHAG) is dipping into its bank account to help a couple of local health professionals upgrade.
The proposals came from KHAG treasurer and chief of medical staff Dr. Derek Carstens.
The first involved an emergency department nurse who wanted to take a three-day Advanced Pediatric Life Support course.
Carstens described this as an important addition to KGH’s capabilities to care for the community’s children.
The second proposal was to help the ultrasound technician attend a week-long course involving blood supply to the legs.
At the moment people had to go to Vancouver or Prince George but taking this course would mean the treatment was available locally, thus improving an already “very good” ultrasound service here.
While the Northern Health Authority (NHA) would pay the registration fees in both cases, the individuals would be on the hook for their travel and accommodation costs.
The problem, Carstens explained, was health workers look at those costs and say, “I’m not going, it’s too expensive on my salary.”
He therefore proposed KHAG pick up those costs. The group unanimously agreed to provide up to a maximum of $3,000 – between its bank account and an unused portion of the original city council grant, it currently has $13,700 available.
But the approval did not go through without a couple of members sounding a cautionary note.
City councillor Mario Feldhoff said that while KHAG had always agreed to augment NHA expenditures, “we have to consistently remind the NHA they ultimately have the responsibility.”
And warned that covering such costs is “potentially a slippery slope.”
Child Development Centre director Margaret Warcup asked that the agenda for the next KHAG meeting include a discussion on how the group lobbies the NHA “to cover the costs appropriately for their staff.”
KHAG could then determine its policy on how it is going to augment NHA funding. Echoing Feldhoff’s concern, Warcup added, “we are on a slippery slope if we cover costs.”
KHAG chairman Rob Goffinet explained that Carstens, as chief of medical staff, knows the needs and does lobby the NHA for support.
“We just take it that when he comes to our table, his lobbying has got everything possible out of the NHA,” he added.