Stone, Milobar call for government action to address RIH staffing shortfalls

MLAs call for action on RIH

As staffing shortfalls and pandemic problems impact operations and strain healthcare workers at Royal Inland Hospital, a pair of Kamloops MLAs are calling for concrete government action to address the issue.

Todd Stone, MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, said in a press conference Monday that under-resourcing Royal Inland Hospital, particularly the facility's emergency department, has been “building for some time.”

“That is not fair to healthcare workers. It's not fair to those nurses. It's not fair to the doctors in the emergency department. This is not fair to the patients who have had to deal with unacceptably long wait times,” Stone said.

Stone and Peter Milobar, MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson, said Monday the government needs to put forward a credible plan with clear implementation timelines to address staffing shortages in what they say is a deteriorating situation.

“We’re calling on the Premier and the minister of health to immediately put that credible plan on the table, and come up to Kamloops,” Stone said.

“Look the people of Kamloops in the eyes, walk them through your plan, walk them through your timelines, walk them through what you're going to do beyond two additional nurse positions being filled.”

After a 70-year-old woman died while waiting in the hospital emergency room last week, Interior Health issued a statement Saturday saying it has hired two new permanent nurses and will bring in four additional temporary nurses for the emergency room, while some clinical staff would be redeployed to staff the department.

The unexpected death is still under investigation by the health authority.

Milobar said he understands staffing shortages are also impacting several other healthcare facilities outside of Kamloops, with communities like Clearwater and Ashcroft having to periodically close their emergency rooms.

“It takes that already critical staffing shortage and capacity shortage in Royal Inland and adds to it,” Milobar said.

“People in those outlying areas, understandably so, still needing some form of medical care, having to drive in that hour, hour and a quarter to Royal Inland to access their emergency room.”

Milobar and Stone said there needs to be more nurse training positions added in Kamloops, and a larger number of seats opened up for nursing students at Thompson Rivers University, while recognizing short-term solutions are needed as well.

“If this government doesn't put a credible human resources plan on the table to address the nursing shortage in this city, we are going to face the very real possibility of opening up the new patient care tower in Kamloops in the days ahead, and not being able to fully staff it,” Stone said.

“That also is completely and totally unacceptable.”

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