By Lyonel Doherty
Change in service? What change in service?
That’s what Interior Health is saying after a recent letter from the Town of Oliver questioned a potential change in service during overnight hours at South Okanagan General Hospital (SOGH).
Former mayor Ron Hovanes said the Town recently heard that discussions are happening, or are soon to happen, regarding possible changes in service in the emergency department.
Hovanes said the Town remains fully committed to finding a long-term solution to make the emergency room sustainable.
The mayor said they want to be involved, from an early stage, in any conversations regarding changes in health care in Oliver.
“A fully functioning 24-hour a day emergency department remains a priority for us, and is of great importance to our community at large,” Hovanes said.
But Health Service Administrator Carl Meadows responded by saying there has not been a change in service at SOGH.
“Interior Health has no plans for any changes to the hospital at this time.”
Meadows said they are having ongoing discussions with local physicians about services that will meet the needs of local residents.
However, in a recent story in the Oliver Chronicle, two key physicians at SOGH expressed their concern about the potential for future emergency room closures and cuts to service. This is due to what Dr. Peter Entwistle describes as low staff retention rates. He says discussions are being held to close the emergency department at night, only to open for life-threatening emergencies.
Entwistle has said in the past there is no incentive for doctors to cover emergency room shifts due to low wages.
An alternate payment plan application to increase these wages was denied by the Ministry of Health in April.