Photo Credit: Photo | Global News

Healthcare System Has North Islanders Rallying for Change

Frustrations with the rural healthcare system are peaking in Port McNeill.

Residents are fed up with the unreliable healthcare service

North Islanders have been fed up with on-and-off healthcare services in the Island’s medical system for a long time.

That’s why hundreds of residents came together last month to raise their voices in a big way.

According to organizer Fran Jenkins, the more they’ve listened to people’s grievances with Island Health, the more obvious it’s become that someone needs to speak out.

“The harder we dug and found more stories, with no explanations and no direct corrections coming so things didn’t happen again, I felt we needed to get together as a group with one voice to be heard,” she told North Island Gazette.

“We’re not here bashing Island Health. I want to come out of this with something that we can take to Island Health that’s going to be productive, let’s make this work again.”

Others at the rally were taking much more direct issue with how leadership has been handling the healthcare crisis.

Dr. Prean Armogam has spent years at odds with Island Health.

He told the Gazette that North Island residents are just starting to fully “understand what’s been happening – I think people have been duped for far too long.”

Dr. Armogram is calling on Island Health to “purge the leadership model” and take ownership of the dysfunction to move on.

BC Rural Health Network’s executive director, Paul Adams, talked to Global News on Saturday to share his thoughts on rural healthcare issues.

“It is unfortunate to see what’s happening in the North Island — it’s also happening in Haida Gwaii, the BC Interior and in the north, We are really having the same problem everywhere. We are operating with a skeleton staff,” he said. “We see a need to change the system from the ground up. We need to engage with the ministry for rural-specific solutions. We need to involve more community voices back into the health care.”

Despite a recent $30 million investment in healthcare services, emergency rooms in North Island are still running under temporary hours, leaving a lot of patients in potentially life-threatening circumstances.

“People in Alert Bay have no hospital open in the night-time hours, and if someone started having chest pains in the middle of the night, there is no one there to stabilize them until they get to Port McNeill’s hospital in the morning,” Jenkins told Comox Valley Now.

In a recent Facebook post, she wrote that the rally was a start but that things have worsened since then.

She’s hoping to hold a Town Hall meeting with Island Health, MP, MLA, and mayors to give them a chance to respond to people’s concerns. For more information and to stay updated, join the NI Health Care in Crisis Facebook group.