Last Thursday, Interior Health (IH) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Robert Halpenny and Board Chair Norman Embree met with Elk Valley Hospital officials as a part of their annual IH visit.
“There’s many reasons for the visit,” Halpenny explained. “Number one is to meet with our staff [and] find out what their issues are [and] how things are working.”
Halpenny said they also meet with the physicians and local elected officials to discuss any current issues — one of those issues being transportation.
In the Elk Valley in particular, one of IH’s main concerns is making sure patients are transferred to the correct facility at the proper time.
Halpenny added that having an understanding of transportation issues helps them get a real understanding of rural health care. “[We also] talk about ways to improve communications with physicians through telehealth and telemedicine.”
Halpenny stressed the importance of both telehealth and telemedicine — the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance health care.
During the tour, Halpenny also said he welcomed three new nurses to IH. He noted that in previous years, both Sparwood and Elkford’s facilities did not have a full staff of physicians. They now, however, have stabilized primary care.
“That’s been a huge benefit for the patients in the valley,” Halpenny said. Commending the three newly appointed nurses he added, “Here are these three young people that are just going to be a terrific advantage to the community. I’m not so sure, in rural communities, people recognize how good the health services are. They have access to community services and primary care that, in lots of places, is better than larger city centres.”