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Stories different after south-end hospital site meeting

There are conflicting reports this week on what's next in determining the site of the new south-end hospital.Northern Health called a meeting in Vancouver last Friday which was attended by representatives of Queen Charlotte and Skidegate. But the two people we have talked to who attended the meeting have come away with very different accounts.The meeting, conducted by teleconference since Northern Health officials were fog-bound in Prince George, saw Skidegate present its case on building the hospital on reserve land across from the heritage centre, followed by a presentation by Queen Charlotte outlining why the hospital should not be moved.Then, Northern Health chair Dr. Charles Jago presented a third option, which would see health care services split between Skidegate and Queen Charlotte, according to Willard Wilson, Skidegate chief councillor.He told the Observer that in the afternoon, after the morning presentations by Skidegate and Queen Charlotte, Northern Health officials proposed that the facility be split, with part going to Skidegate and part going to Queen Charlotte."The third option is that primary care could be put in one location, with acute care in Charlotte," Mr. Wilson said. He also said the idea has merits. "We are considering that now, we are seriously considering that now," he said in a telephone interview from Vancouver.Mr. Wilson said this would be a good fit, as he believes long-term care for the elders would be in Skidegate, with other health services available in Queen Charlotte."We'll be finding out exactly what primary care involves," he said, "it looks good.Northern Health's website defines primary care as "a patient's first line of access to the health care system. Primary care renewal activities typically focus on patients who don't have regular access to family physicians, or improving health systems for patients whose day-to-day health needs aren't well met."That could imply that several health related offices could be moved to Skidegate along with a long-term care facility, leaving emergency and short-term hospital facilities in Queen Charlotte.Mr. Wilson says the band council will be talking about the idea this week, and he has another meeting set up with Northern Health on November 19.However, Queen Charlotte councillor Gladys Noddin has a very different view of what went on at the same meeting. She says Northern Health asked Queen Charlotte and Skidegate to come to an agreement about where the new hospital should be built."They want consensus between the two communities," Ms Noddin said, "They want us to come up with a consensus."She summarized Northern Health's position on the hospital site as "it can be here, there, or somewhere else. You decide."Ms Noddin said Queen Charlotte and Skidegate have not made any plans on how they'll come up with a consensus. Queen Charlotte's next step will be to meet as a council, she said. The village is also waiting for survey and engineering reports commissioned by Northern Health on the two proposed hospital sites.Queen Charlotte mayor Carol Kulesha did not return several phone calls the Observer made to her Tuesday.