It has been recognized on both government and local levels that there is a unique problem with the medical care in Princeton. We apparently have enough doctors to cover the local and area populace; however, there are not enough physicians to man the Hospital Emergency Room. For years, the government has been running in circles, hiring “recruitment” officers, etc. and no solutions have been forthcoming. Now the area is in the midst of unacceptable 4-night-a-week closures in the Emergency Room. The government would like to “centralize” the health care in British Columbia, but that has its obvious flaws in emergency situations.
To solve this unique problem, the government must create a “unique” job position. Our government has a long history of creating new job positions, so this should not be difficult. As I understand it, doctors work on a fee for service basis. If they don’t have enough patients, they won’t make enough money to warrant their practice. The current Princeton doctors all have sufficient numbers of patients. To solve our “unique” problem, the government must create a salaried Emergency Room Doctor position. This doctor would be hired to only work the Emergency Room. He/she would not have the overhead of a private practice. They would not have to worry about patient numbers. They would be paid a set amount of money (salary) per year to work 40 hours per week in the Princeton Emergency Room. Hopefully this would help alleviate some of the stress placed on the current physicians who must try to fit in ER hours on top of running their busy practices. While they would still have to put in some ER hours, it would be to a much lesser extent. As an added incentive to new graduates, the government could offer to pay their student loans at a set percentage per year that the doctor works in the Princeton Hospital. I am sure this idea is shocking to you as doctors aren’t supposed to have a salary – however YOU have a salary as do the thousands upon thousands of government employees. Is it really so incredulous an idea as to pay someone a set wage to look after our hospital’s emergency room and save lives?
Mr. de Jong stated that “the government has provided ten million additional dollars to assist with the recruitment of physicians to rural ERs.” That money could be put toward the salaries of Emergency Room doctors. I am sure that Princeton is not the only rural community in British Columbia with this problem. It would also be time to do some housekeeping at the Interior Health Authority to get rid of those who feel Princeton is a “hole” to live in (see Dawn Johnson’s article in the April 24, 2012 edition of the Similkameen Newsleader), and those who were hired to recruit doctors but have not been successful. In the private field, if an employee has a 0% success rate, they are released from their position. This should help the government generate money to help pay for the doctors who will be filling this new Emergency Room salaried position.
The solution is simple. The question is, will the government put their money where their mouth is and actually fix our problem now that a solution has been presented? A telephone outside the Princeton Hospital Emergency Room does not qualify as “health care”. I am speaking from first hand experience as the wife of a man who suffered a cardiac arrest at our home in Coalmont. He literally died before my eyes and without the help of our neighbours, our home defibrillator (which I had purchased years before because I was well aware of the poor medical response time in our area), and Dr. Eva who was working in the Princeton Hospital’s Emergency Room that day, he would not be here today. Even though my neighbours and our defibrillator were able to revive my husband, without Dr. Eva’s work to stabilize him for the 2 hour trip to the Penticton Hospital, he would not have survived. Had the Princeton Emergency Room been closed on that fateful day, I would be a widow today. To you we may just be “numbers” who live in a backwoods “hole”, but trust me when I say that we are all human beings with spouses, children, grandchildren and friends.
I have just given you a very simple solution to our problem. It is time to “man up” and heal the critical condition of our rural medical care. I anxiously await your response.