A paper petition aimed at bringing awareness to emergency services at the Ashcroft Hospital and Community Health Care Centre has received around 2,000 signatures from local residents.
The petition was started by Sheila Corneille, who chairs the Healthcare and Wellness Coalition. The document is in addition to an online petition that was started in May 2019 and is in response to the ongoing closures of the hospital's emergency department.
“Well, what motivated us (is)...we’ve been seeing that since 2012, the decline of emergency services starting that far back, so we’ve been seeing this for quite some time but (we’ve) always been told that it is a temporary measure," Corneille tells KamloopsMatters. "The final straw is when we were down to only weekend emergency services.”
She adds, "now that we are seeing closures…and we learned that another nurse had given her resignation, we knew that the staffing levels were extremely low and so we decided that it was time to stop just accepting the word that it was going to be temporary and say, 'No, this is not good. We need to change something."
Corneille says besides the petitions, the coalition has reached out to government officials in the area. They’ve only received a response from the Ashcroft MP, Jackie Tegart, who Corneille says has been supportive and tried to help them get the attention of Interior Health and the Ministry of Health.
Berni Easson, Interior Health's health service administrator for Thompson-Cariboo Rural, says the health authority is open to working together with the coalition and better understanding the importance of the issue.
“We know that any disruption to service at the emergency room is very worrisome for the local residents and we’re doing everything we can to try and prevent that disruption to service,” she says.
According to Easson, there have been challenges dealing with staff shortages and they are actively recruiting nurses to deal with the problem.
“We have formed a table of people, a collaborative table between Interior Health, our First Nation leaders, the municipal leaders of the Ashcroft and district areas, the rural and remote division of family process, we have some community members at the table as well and we are looking at really reviewing what the challenges are,” she tells KamloopsMatters.
Easson adds she's aware of the coalition's petition.
Ashcroft emergency services are expected to return to normal Saturday, July 13 at 8 a.m. They normally run from Friday at 6 p.m. to Monday at 8 a.m.