A local rally was held in the North Island this weekend as the state of health care continues to affect the area.
The rally comes as the ongoing limited staffing availability resulted in the Cormorant Island Community Health Centre and Port Hardy Hospital to permanently extend their night-time closures.
Organizer Fran Jenkins says an estimated 300 people showed up to support the cause. She says she felt that someone needed to step up to raise awareness of the issue, which is how she settled on the idea of a rally.
“I had just started hearing about what was happening in healthcare on the upper north island, and it needed to be addressed,” says Jenkins.
As someone reaching their twilight years, the issue affects Jenkins on a personal level.
“I’m 67 years old, and I have the usual old age stuff happening, but I know people who have serious ongoing conditions, that are not always finding what they need available to them,” says Jenkins.
The rally came about through a Facebook group called, “North Island Health Care in Crisis.”
It was held on Saturday at 11 am at the North Island Secondary School’s gym, which focused on the recent changes made by Island Health.
Before the event, Jenkins put out a call to anyone willing to tell their story.
“I am looking for people to come forward who have had their health care compromised due to staffing shortages or hospital closures and who would be willing to stand up and tell their story,” wrote Jenkins on February 8th. “Our physicians are fighting for improved conditions up here, possibly putting their jobs and medical licenses on the line.”
The Province had announced that $30 million would be invested to stabilize and improve access to reliable health-care services, including emergency care, in Port Hardy and the Mount Waddington region earlier this year.
“It depends on the community too,” says Jenkins. “People in Alert Bay have no hospital open in the night-time hours and if someone started having chest pains in the middle of the night, there is no one there to stabilize them until they get to Port McNeill’s hospital in the morning.”
Jenkins believes by bringing and maintaining physician assistants, along with getting more local staff for their emergency services are some of the changes that can benefit the community in the long-term.
She also acknowledges that the North Island isn’t the only one dealing with shortages in the healthcare field, but says that a collective action needs to be made.
Jenkins says, “It’s time for each community to join together and bring our regional issues to Island Health.”
For more information on the group, you can visit the NI Health Care in Crisis’s Facebook page.