Queen Charlotte does not need a new hospital, and the money to build one would be better spent on preventing illness, two doctors have told the Northern Health Authority, despite the fact that the building dates from1954 and was slated for replacement as long ago as 1990.
At an open house Saturday in Tlell, Drs. Jamie Chrones and Tracy Morton said a new hospital is needed at the north end of the islands, but that the 50-year-old Queen Charlotte facility is working just fine.
The doctors cautioned that they were simply talking about their general use of the building, and were not offering an opinion on its ability to withstand an earthquake, which may be an issue in deciding whether the facility needs to be replaced.
The province began planning for a new hospital as long ago as 1990, but two years cancelled the $11.5-million plan to save money,
Dr. Morton and Dr. Chrones were the only members of the public who attended the Northern Health Authority’s open house, held last Saturday evening during one of the final NHL hockey games.
A consultation session held in the afternoon attracted about eight people, said communications officer Sonya Kruger.
The health authority is holding these sessions throughout the region because it is trying to find out what residents think can be done to improve their own health, and how the health system works.
Workbooks handed out at the consultation paint a somewhat grim picture of life in the north. The northwest region – from here to Houston, and up to the Yukon border – has the lowest life expectancy in the province, the highest rate of sexual offences, higher than average rates of workplace deaths and deaths by suicide, and the highest rate of obesity.
However, there is some good news. Chief medical officer Dr. David Bowering pointed to the north’s infant mortality rate, which is now lower than the provincial average, after being higher for many years. The north also has a lower rate of low birth weight babies, which is good.
The northwest also has a lower than average rate of death by lung cancer, and the rate of death by cancer is exactly the same as for all BC. For almost every other cause of death – including alcohol, motor vehicle, pneumonia and diabetes – the rate in the northwest is higher than in the rest of the province.
If you have ideas about improving health, it’s not too late. Northern Health’s deadline for receiving filled-out questionnaires is June 21. You can pick up a questionnaire at any clinic or hospital, or fill it out on the internet at www.northernhealth.ca A report should be complete by September.
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