Provincial budget was silent on Northern Health and advanced education

By Hilary Crowley
March 5, 2019 - 10:28am Updated: March 6, 2019 - 4:37pm

Northern Health is responsible for the provision of Health Care for two-thirds of the land mass of British Columbia. Our health services are woefully inadequate compared to the rest of the Province. The North provides the workers and natural resources which make significant economic contributions that fund provincial health and education. In return, we deserve equitable access to services.

Prior to the last provincial election, a surgical tower was promised to the University Hospital of Northern BC. This was to include a rehabilitation ward. Presently, patients who suffer stroke, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, have to leave their family and community to receive needed services in either the Lower Mainland or the Okanagan. This didn’t use to be so and is not right. We deserve better. Rehabilitation services have been shown to positively improve clinical outcomes and decrease health care costs of treating both chronic and acute conditions. There was no mention in the budget to address any of these needs.

It is a well-known fact that when students are trained closer to home, they are more likely to work closer to home on graduation. UNBC is a fine university and should provide education for the services we need in the north. There is a well-documented shortage of physiotherapists in the north. In order to provide equitable access to services in Northern Health’s region, we must educate the rehabilitation professions needed to provide these services at UNBC.

The Northern Medical Program has been very successful in attracting and retaining physicians in northern and rural communities. The original plan was that this should be followed by bringing education for allied health professionals to the north. Without a surgical tower, rehabilitation ward and needed allied health professionals to provide optimum health care to our community, we cannot provide equitable access. Physicians will become frustrated with this lack of services as well as lack of surgical space and will move away to locations that support their practice.

A huge rally and community response brought the Northern Medical Program to UNBC. It is time to rally the same response to bring the required allied health professionals to our community, with needed training programs at UNBC. This is the only way we will receive equitable access to services for our community and opportunities for our young students.

A huge rally and community response brought the Northern Medical Program to UNBC. It is time to rally the same response to bring the required allied health professionals to our community, with needed training programs at UNBC. This is the only way we will receive equitable access to services for our community and opportunities for our young students.

* The rally in 2000 resulted in not just a medical training program but sustained effort to address healthcare workforce shortages and lack of access to care. This sustained collective effort resulted in major achievements in training opportunities and needed facilities: A 600% increase in nursing graduates.

* A Nurse Practitioner program.

* A cancer treatment facility.

* A radiology technician program at CNC.

* A medical lab tech program at CNC

* An Ultrasound tech program at CNC

* A Learning Centre based at the University Hospital of Northern BC.

Sadly the Northern Cohort of physiotherapy students has not produced the needed change in the physiotherapy work force in northern BC. We need the full academic program at UNBC to address these shortages. The deficiencies in OT and speech language services parallel those of physiotherapy.

Attendance at the Bob Ewert dinner in April, apart from ensuring a wonderful evening, will celebrate our collective achievements to date and demonstrate community support for the provision of equitable access to health services in our region.

 

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