A close-up of the sign outside of Port McNeill's district hospital.

Photo Credit: Ethan Morneau / My Triport Now

NorthIsle Hospital Closures Just Keep Coming

BC's healthcare system needs life support

And it’s not only emergency patients who are suffering

The emergency room in Port McNeill closed this past weekend. Again. The closure left residents without emergency room access for 12 hours due to an “unanticipated temporary nursing shortage.”

There aren’t enough nurses to keep hospitals open. Maybe it’s because they’re sick and burnt out?

This is just the latest in a slew of closures taking place in BC. Another two closed temporarily in Chetwynd and Clearwater this past weekend.

Island Health said it was forced to send folks from the Port McNeill ER to Port Hardy between Friday night and Saturday morning.

This weekend’s closure wasn’t the first. The emergency room closed from 7 a.m. on May 13 until 7 a.m. on May 16 for similar reasons.

“(It’s) very concerning, we need this hospital,” Port McNeill resident Aidan McDonald told Global News.

But the closures likely won’t stop soon.

“In our discussions with Island Health, we understand that the staffing issue is quite a concern and we will probably have to navigate through this at least through the summer,” said Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom.

While these closures may be “temporary,” they are not the only symptom of BC’s struggling healthcare system.

Francis (Phuc Van) Tran is a 70-year-old oyster farmer in Nanoose Bay. He is just one of the hundreds of patients who feel left behind by our medical system.

He was diagnosed with liver cancer this past April. Doctors told him his chances were good if he could start treatment quickly. But he told CBC that he won’t see an oncologist until ten weeks after he was first diagnosed.

Each day that passes, his chances get slimmer. He said if he’d known about the wait, he would have come up with the money to get treated in the US or even Cuba.

Tran said he’s upset about healthcare worker shortages and long surgery wait times.

“I don’t know what the government is doing,” he told CBC.

Unfortunately, the government doesn’t seem too sure what they’re doing either.

They say they’ve been investing in hospitals. They announced that they’re creating about 600 new nursing jobs and doing a $1.3-billion upgrade on the Burnaby hospital. That could eventually help patients like Tran.

But for folks who live in rural areas or who can’t afford to travel for care, not much is being done.

When questioned about the recent temporary closures at rural hospitals, Premier John Horgan had a message for residents:

“What my message to British Columbians [is that] the system is vibrant, but the system is teetering, and we need the support.”

That answer is better than his f-bomb. But it’s still pretty vague.

But didn’t Horgan also have cancer? Doesn’t he know how Tran must feel?

It’s great that the Premier got good treatment. That’s fantastic. It’s just that everyone should get that kind of care.

Horgan did say the premiers and territorial leaders would lobby the federal government for more funding. They are all scheduled to meet in Victoria in July, so we’ll see what happens. 

Until then, to make an impact, you can support the BCNU Help BC Nurses Movement.

This campaign encourages folks to email their local MLAs to demand support for healthcare workers and our communities.