The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.

MSA Update: Elk Valley fortunate in recruiting

President of the MSA Dr Chalmers-Nixon said new hires were closing gaps in the valley’s medical services

City of Fernie staff and councillors have received an update on how the Medical Staff Association (MSA) in the Elk Valley have been faring during the ongoing pandemic and through 2020.

At the Nov. 16 Committee of the Whole meeting at the City of Fernie, President of the MSA, Dr Tara Chalmers-Nixon talked about how the MSA had gone through a COVID-19 mobilization, with weekly updates with Interior Health partners and Upper Elk Valley physicians on preparedness across departments in all three communities (with medical facilities) in the Elk Valley. Interior Health also reorganized the local health organization prior to the pandemic, with a new Director of Operations for Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie.

Additionally, Dr Chalmers-Nixon reported that “the Elk Valley Hospital now has a 24/7, 365 days a year operating room,” thanks to support from the Rural Surgical and Obstetrics Network (RSON) – a provincial network designed to support rural communities in getting safe maternity care closer to rural communities.

“This is the first time in history that the people of the Elk Valley have an operating room available every day of the year,” said Dr Chalmers-Nixon. “To give you an idea of the significance, in 2017 (the Elk Valley Hospital) had a five week annual operating room shut down, as well as closures every other weekend. This meant that maternity patients had to go to East Kootenay Regional Hospital for labour and delivery during these closures. Now all low risk maternity patients can labour close to home. With an average of 100-120 births annually, this is a huge benefit for our community.”

Dr Chalmers-Nixon also talked about the recruitment challenges facing the medical community in the Elk Valley.

“Interior Health had identified that we had about 5,000 unattached patients in the Elk Valley (patients without a family doctor) … and over the last year we’ve been successful in improving (reach) and recruiting,” she said.

“Some smaller towns of course have difficulty recruiting, and the Elk Valley of late has been fortunate.”

Dr Chalmers-Nixon said that a new doctor had been hired in Fernie, and Sparwood had recently been able to fill two physician positions that had been vacated through retirements, “which is really great to allow for closer-to-home care for those that reside in Sparwood.”

Dr Chalmers-Nixon also talked about the need for an ongoing recruitment plan, with the MSA forming a recruitment committee “in anticipation of future retirements and hopefully not ending up in the position where we are really strapped. Some of our neighbouring communities – Cranbrook for instance – are really in trouble because they are needing many more physicians. Fernie is planning ahead so to speak, to be sure there’s always that secession planning for family physicians in town.”

READ MORE: Elk Valley residents can now book COVID-19 testing online
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Pride and Transgender flags wave on the lawn of Fernie's City Hall. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Pride launches inclusivity survey

The survey will help identify gaps in supports for the LGBTQ2+ community in the Elk Valley

The freshly re-painted rainbow crossings in Fernie in 2021. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Rainbow crossings come to Fernie

Volunteers painted the crossings at 3rd Ave and 5th Street in Fernie in pride colours

Coal Creek and forested land near Fernie, B.C. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Elk Valley Regional Land Trust inks deal with Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies

Donations to the trusts project to secure forested land in the Elk Valley can now be made through the CFKR

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Students from EIDES in Fernie with a cheque for $500 from the East Kootenay Community Credit Union (EKC). (Image courtesy of EKC)
East Kootenay students get outdoors to learn

A donation from the EKC allowed schools in the region to buy outdoor learning kits

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read