Physicians speak out on hospital site

  • Dec. 10, 2007 5:00 a.m.

The physicians who work in Queen Charlotte have raised several concerns about the new hospital site proposed by the Skidegate Band Council. In a four-page letter sent Monday (Dec. 10) to the board of Northern Health, chief of staff Andrea Wilhelm pointed to several areas the physicians believe need to be considered before the site decision is made. Northern Health is considering two sites for the new building, which will replace the aging hospital in Queen Charlotte: the existing site and site near the ferry terminal, on the western boundary of the Skidegate reserve. The sites are just over five kilometres apart. Dr. Wilhelm’s letter says that if the hospital is moved further away from Queen Charlotte, where all the physicians live, it will add an estimated three to five hours to an already-long work week. It will also take longer for them to respond to emergency calls, and will result in physicians having to drive a longer distance in a sleep-deprived state, when they are called out to an emergency in the middle of the night. Accommodation could be built near the hospital, but physicians are unlikely to want to spend large chunks of time in staff housing when they could be in their own homes with their families, she wrote. If the Skidegate site is chosen, accommodation may also be needed for the many locum doctors and nurses, lab and x-ray techs, and students who work at the hospital. These temporary workers will also need transportation as the Skidegate site is not within walking distance of a grocery store or other shops, and don’t usually come to the islands with a vehicle. Another point raised is the access road to the Skidegate site, which may be expensive given the elevation of the site. The access road may also be difficult or dangerous to drive in winter, for ambulances as well as patients. Dr. Wilhelm’s letter is printed word-for-word in this Thursday’s Observer, starting on page 7.