OUR VIEW: Sooner better than later for IHA meeting

It would be best if a meeting with IHA CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny and Board Chair Norman Embree take place before May.

Residents of Grand Forks that have health care concerns will have to wait a little longer before they have a chance to ask questions of Interior Health Authority (IHA) CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny and Board Chair Norman Embree.

During the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference last September, the two were invited to come to Grand Forks in order to talk with locals.

Originally, some time in November was suggested as a meeting time but eventually, it seemed Wednesday, Feb. 15 would be when the two would come to town. Now it seems that the meeting will be delayed until Wednesday, May 23.

Some suggest that IHA is trying to dodge local residents by postponing the meeting but IHA, for its part, says that it likes to maximize its CEO and board chair’s time by having them meet with as many stakeholders as possible during a given time – kill two birds with one stone as it were.

An IHA spokesperson said that such meetings are sometimes scheduled in conjunction with other meetings – in this case a regional hospital district meeting – and the move to May was so that directors wouldn’t have to travel long distances in winter conditions.

The reason given does make sense given the recent snowfall accumulations.

However, the three-plus months between when the meeting was supposed to take place to the tentatively scheduled May 23 date is too long and IHA needs to schedule something earlier – even if it’s in early-spring when road conditions are better.

There are many health care-related issues on the minds of people and there are questions people want to ask of Halpenny and Embree.

Rod Gustafson and his ready-to-go Broadacres Care Facility was passed over during a request for proposal for 40 residential care beds last year – Golden Life Management and its Silver Kettle Village were the successful proponents and the facility is being built and slated to open in September 2012.

Just before the new year, the closure of Grand Forks’ Sexually Transmitted Infection clinic was announced and there are questions surrounding that as well.

No doubt Halpenny and Embree will be dealing with some passionate, and in some instances, angry people, when the meeting does occur. But the number of upset residents will only increase the longer the meeting is put off.

– Grand Forks Gazette