OUR VIEW: More dialogue with IHA executives needed

Grand Forks residents had a chance to voice concerns about health care to IHA execs at a recent meeting but there needs to be more of this.

The meeting with Interior Health Authority (IHA) officials in Grand Forks finally took place last week at Boundary Hospital.

IHA CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny, board chair Norman Embree, IHA Kootenay Boundary acute area director Ingrid Hampf and Vice President Acute Services Corporate Administration Allan Sinclair held a 30-minute meeting and took questions from residents.

An interesting concept was brought up by Christine Thompson, chair of the local group Concerned Citizens for Community Health Care.

Not everyone attending the meeting was satisfied with the answers to some of the questions – and not all questions were answered as a matter of fact – and the executives are busy people with the IHA covering a big area but what if an advisory panel was set up consisting of members from all areas served by Grand Forks’ Boundary Hospital?

The panel could meet via video four times a year and discuss concerns with Halpenny, Embree etc.

Halpenny didn’t seem too keen on the idea and seemed to favour a system which would see people going to their elected officials, which would be passing the buck.

If someone has issues with their car’s engine, they don’t go to the local car parts store to see what the problems are, they go to their mechanic.

Mike de Jong is the province’s health minister but he might not have insight into the local problems and if residents with concerns went to city councillors or Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater, there would still be layers of red tape they would have to cut through to get things done. Thompson said, rightly so, that adding health care to an elected officials’ plate is a burden that they don’t need.

People are concerned about health care in the area, as witnessed by turnouts, not only last week, but in the past to health care-related meetings and even letters to the editor. Local residents need an outlet to express their concerns and waiting for the few times that the IHA executives come to Grand Forks isn’t going to cut it.

At the same time, expecting Dr. Halpenny and Embree to come to Grand Forks four times a year would be asking too much as well, since they have a large area to cover, making the video conference ideal.

When a suggestion to hold the meetings with people like Hampf was suggested Halpenny didn’t seem as against it but said to carry the conversation to a later date.

The idea should be given more serious consideration, not just for Grand Forks but other areas that IHA serves as well.

– Grand Forks Gazette

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