Masset hospital threatened, doctor warns

  • Jan. 29, 2003 7:00 a.m.

The Masset hospital is suffering from a severe shortage of staff, which is making it more difficult than ever before to attract new health care workers, says a Masset physician.
The situation has become so bad that it could lead to the closure of the Masset hospital, Dr. Vanita Lokanathan warned this week.
“I think there’s a serious risk of the hospital closing,” said Dr. Lokanathan, who is leaving her position at the end of February. Another Masset physician is leaving within the next few months.
Dr. Lokanathan said she likes living on the islands and intends to continue living here, but is no longer willing to practice medicine here.
“The final straw for me was the closing of the pharmacy,” she said. “It has had a definite impact on patient care.”
The Northern Health Authority, the Prince George-based board which last year took over responsibility for health services on the islands, closed the Masset pharmacy in December, saying it had been unable to recruit a pharmacist to work there. Prescriptions are now filled at the Queen Charlotte pharmacy and delivered to Masset once a day.
But the new system means more work for the doctors and nurses. Dr. Lokanathan said she regularly spends half an hour to an hour on her call days dispensing medication from starter packs for patients who can’t wait for the next day’s prescription delivery. The physicians asked the health authority for two daily deliveries from Queen Charlotte, but their request was turned down, she added.
Recruiting permanent physicians is difficult for any rural community, but Dr. Lokanathan said Masset’s biggest problem is that the lack of other staff (like a pharmacist and a second lab technician) and the aging facilities make it an unattractive place to work.
“My big concern is that if it does happen (the hospital closure), it’s going to be portrayed as part of a retention problem,” she said. “It’s really a problem of inadequate facilities and equipment… The underlying issue is this place has never been funded for two sites.”
Masset doctors spent an evening last week briefing north-end community leaders about the crisis.
“People were shocked about what they were hearing, and we’re working on it,” said Masset mayor Barry Pages. “We’ve decided to form a sub-committee to sit down and address some of these issues.”
Mr. Pages – for many years the chair of the local community health council – said last year’s move to administer services out of Prince George has made it more difficult to lobby for Masset’s health needs. He said he was given two days notice about the Northern Health Authority’s Jan. 18 meeting in Prince George, making it almost impossible for anyone from the islands to attend.
Northern Health Authority communications officer Mark Karjualoto said the board is aware of the need for physicians in Masset.
“We’re certainly going to be recruiting up there,” he said. “It’s very definitely a challenging issue.”
According to a press release issued by the Northern Health Authority last week, the board’s top priorities are recruiting more general practitioners for Burns Lake, more radiologists for the northern interior, more internal medicine specialists and orthopedic surgeons across the region, and more obstetrical, pediatric, and ear/nose/throat coverage for Prince George. Masset is not mentioned anywhere in the news release.

Just Posted

New ultrasound means less travel for medical services

Ultrasound equipment from Prince Rupert Hospital will help restore islands services

Fishing Haida Gwaii: A salmon fisheries collapse is a terrifying thought

By Darrell Oike Haawa for all the fish caught this week. Spring… Continue reading

Haida Gwaii wrestlers make history at B.C. tournament

It was the first time a wrestling team from Haida Gwaii has ever competed in the B.C.-wide tournament

Tribesmen defeat Haida 77-61 in semi-final matchup at 2018 Junior All Native Basketball Tournament

Prince Rupert Tribesmen advance to finals to face Gitmidiik Storm

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil has strong B.C. ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

Uber self-driving crash video calls safety, rules into question

Experts say footage shows that vehicle’s sensors should have spotted pedestrian, initiated braking

Greens’ Elizabeth May, NDP’s Kennedy Stewart join B.C. anti-pipeline protest

The two politicians could be arrested for violating a court injunction

B.C. man shot by police in 2017 pleads guilty to string of offences

Kaymen Winter gets two years, opts for trial on two charges related to Salmon Arm car wash shooting

Are you going to turn off the lights for Earth Hour?

BC Hydro report says fewer people in the province are taking part, but feel it’s still important

Marijuana edibles won’t be regulated in 2018

Health Canada says edible regulation is still more than a year away

Fat joke on B.C. school’s sign not appropriate, woman says

Surrey mother says weight issues are no laughing matter

Most Read