Private health services take pressure off public system

Dear Editor,

It has been a while since I have written with an update on behalf of the Concerned Citizens for Health Care. With the change in provincial government we felt it would be appropriate to let the new Medical Minister assess the healthcare situation and decide what, if any, changes would need to be implemented.

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After 18 months and many conversations, it appears there is an ongoing issue with the Northern Health board and access to services in our area, from long waits in the emergency department of our local hospital to lengthy waiting lists for diagnostic services such as MRIs and ultrasounds.

I recently learned that the provincial government is trying to phase out or close down private medical imaging clinics such as Peace Regional MRI & Ultrasound located in Dawson Creek.

Private businesses such as these allow almost immediate access to medical imaging services for a fee and provide results in just a few days, freeing up the medical imaging departments in the hospitals for patients who are more urgent or cannot afford the fee. Why would our provincial government choose not to support facilities such as these that help to take the pressure off the provincial medical system?

I believe it is our right as Canadians to decide if we would prefer to wait or pay the additional fee for faster access and I cannot understand why the provincial government would wish to prevent people from seeking the fastest possible solution to their medical problems. 

The Dawson Creek hospital does not have an MRI and you would think it would be a welcome addition, and yet Northern Health chooses not to utilize Peace Region MRI & Ultrasound to help bring down the wait times for this type of service. Physicians and patients within our community need access to this type of medical service and I am wondering why the Health Minister wants to close this private facility, which has a crucial role in saving lives, instead of trying to find a way to work with them and provide better access to patients in the North.

People in the more populated parts of our province, such as the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island where all the decision makers live, have easier access to medical care while those of us in the North are forced to wait on long lists and/or travel and incur expenses in order to receive care. Expenses that often exceed the cost of having these services done in a private facility.

I would like to ask the Medical Minister when he plans to put the "care" back in healthcare and address the very serious situation many of us in the province face in regard to receiving medical services.

There will be petitions available at the Hair Bin and other local businesses to sign, and I urge anyone who is concerned about the current state of our healthcare system to write to their local MP or the Medical Minister to request change and show your support for the Peace Regional MRI as there is a court injunction for their closure.

Sincerely,

— Lorraine Isenbecker, Concerned Citizen for Healthcare

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