Pictured: Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Wikipedia photo.

Elk Valley patients running into Alberta healthcare roadblocks

Mayor, MLAs resolve to work together to find a solution to patients being referred to distant cities

Elk Valley patients are being turned away from Alberta health services and community leaders are determined to find out why.

A local mayor and MLA have banded together to try to resolve the issue they believe could be linked to financial compensation between the B.C. and Alberta governments.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said his office has been inundated with constituent concerns about access to healthcare services in Alberta.

According to Shypitka, the province of Alberta has been moving non-emergency and elective surgeries for B.C. patients to Kelowna and elsewhere for roughly the past year, however, those referrals have increased over the past six months.

“Now, we’re getting this kind of complaint all the time,” he said.

The MLA said he has been working with B.C. health minister Adrian Dix behind the scenes to find solutions on a case-by-case basis.

He has also been trying to get to the root of the problem.

“In my opinion, I think it’s a billing issue, where health authorities in Alberta aren’t getting direct payment from the Province of British Columbia, from B.C. residents,” said Shypitka.

“So instead of it going directly to the health authority, these payments go to Alberta as a whole and then those payments get trickled down or allocated back to the health authority not necessarily always 100 per cent.”

Shypitka has urged any local patients running into roadblocks for healthcare in Alberta to contact his constituency office with their testimonials.

Sparwood’s new mayor David Wilks and Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok have also been vocal on the issue.

Wilks believes a large number of Sparwood residents are being affected.

“I certainly will be speaking with other mayors throughout the region at the Regional District meetings coming up to gain support to assist both MLAs (Shypitka and Clovechok) in providing additional information to the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, so that we can hopefully rectify this situation,” he said.

Wilks said patients previously referred to Alberta health services are now being sent to Kelowna or Vancouver, between eight and 11 hours’ drive away.

“It is nothing against the medical care that they receive in Kelowna or Vancouver… It’s the amount of time that it takes loved ones to get there and also when patients are discharged from there they are required to find their own way back,” he said.

“Now that’s all fine and dandy if you are a young person who might have the ability to do that, but if you’re an elderly person and you have no one, it becomes extremely problematic.

“So we have to fix that and if we can’t fix that then we have to look at ways that we can get these people to a closer area from their home.”

Shypitka has obtained a memo from Interior Health, which shows Calgary has experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of cardiac surgery referrals.

The health authority was informed that as a result, Calgary will not be offering non-life-threatening open heart procedures to patients from southeastern B.C.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) says care was provided to 9440 out-of-province patients last year.

According to a statement from an Alberta government spokesperson, a policy guideline is in the works to support AHS doctors and clinicians in accepting out-of-province patients seeking elective procedures at Alberta hospitals.

Those guidelines are in the early stages of development and will be piloted in specific regions, and clinical areas.

The B.C. Ministry of Health is yet to respond to Black Press’ request for comment.

Are you an Elk Valley resident who has had difficulty accessing Alberta healthcare? Contact Kimberley Vlasic via 250-423-4666 or reporter@thefreepress.ca.



reporter@thefreepress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Abra Brynne wins Kootenay-Columbia Green Party nomination

Brynne is one of three candidates who will challenge MP Wayne Stetski

Structure fire near Elko quickly contained, spreading prevented

A quick response by local firefighters today prevented the spread of a… Continue reading

Huckleberry harvesting restricted to protect grizzly habitat

The Province is restricting commercial-scale huckleberry harvesting to protect grizzly bear habitat… Continue reading

American Kevin Sheehan crowned champion at Fernie disc golf tournament

Close behind was Calgary’s Bogdan Szafranowicz and American Brian Bjortomt

Fernie woman creates sanctuary for people of all ages, abilities

By Mary Giuliano In Fernie as in most places, many projects that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Nine kittens and cats rescued after being locked in bins in northern B.C.: SPCA

SPCA says cats were starving, and matted with feces and urine

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

ICBC insurance renewals get more complicated this year

Crash history, driver risk prompt more reporting requirements

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

U.S. tug firm to be sentenced for 2016 spill in B.C. First Nation’s territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

Most Read