NHA under funding acute beds

Kitimat Health Advocacy Group chairman Rob Goffinet had some good news for members at their latest meeting.

Kitimat Health Advocacy Group chairman Rob Goffinet had some good news for members at their latest meeting.

And a revelation.

Goffinet said the Northern Health Authority (NHA) has committed to upgrading the emergency wing “to make it better able to serve the increasing emergency room demand.”

Goffinet explained the influx of workers on the Kitimat Modernisation Project sees them using the emergency room instead of a General practitioner.

As a result, doctors and KHAG continue to push for at least two emergency room nurses being on duty at all times.

“The emergency room is being overtaxed and one emergency nurse is unacceptable.”

He also noted some help is being considered by Rio Tinto Alcan and other companies considering construction camps here in the future by upgrading their medical stations to “an intermediate care facility to head off as many people as possible so they don’t come to the ER.”

Goffinet said a continuing problem with the ER is one created by an overflow from acute care – the regular hospital beds.

Right now the 22 acute care beds are filled and up to four beds in ER have basically become almost permanent acute beds.

But Goffinet said that is the result of a trickle down effect because acute beds are being occupied by patients who should be in the multi-level care wing.

He then revealed that the NHA is only funding for 17 acute care nurses, five less than the actual number of beds in the hospital.

Asked when the last time was that acute beds were empty, Goffinet said, “We’re led to believe they’re full about all the time.”

He also noted that if all beds are full, elective surgery cannot be scheduled and that in turn means waiting lists get longer.

[Elective surgery includes orthopaedic surgery such as joint replacements.]

Pointing out Kitimat was trying to persuade people to retire here – “and it’s working” – Goffinet said that potentially posed a longer term problem.

While these retirees were active now, down the road their health would inevitably fail and the pressure on the hospital would become even greater.

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Once again the poor quality of food served to residents of the multi-level care (MLC) wing was brought up at the KHAG meeting.

Luella Froess urged everyone to read an article in the March edition of Readers Digest titled “Is there a doctor in the kitchen?”

“We have been complaining about the food in this hospital and the multi-level for years,” she pointed out.

She said that at the moment frozen food was being brought in “not only from Canada, but sometimes offshore, heated up and served,” adding it was often inedible and ended up being thrown in the garbage.

Froess said another problem with the meals was the servings were greater than the residents’ appetite.

The article noted that some multi-level care facilities were re-opening their kitchens and cooking on site – and finding there was a lot less waste as a result.

And as a result of preparing smaller portions of nutritious and tasty food, they had actually ended up saving money.

Froess said this idea had been brought up with the NHA, but she didn’t know where it would go.

“It is something we should push for because we have a kitchen (in Kitimat General Hospital).’

Froess also emphasized that the MLC staff could not be blamed for the poor food.

“They can only work with what they’re given.”