Our MLA Adam Olsen has been hearing a lot about staff shortages at Lady Minto Hospital, and so has the Driftwood in the past week.
While Island Health and the provincial government will keep putting on a brave face for obvious reasons, other people told the Driftwood off the record that the staff shortages are having a severe impact.
One person described seeing the situation there as “a shocker” and heard the phrase “the wheels are coming off the system” more than once while at the hospital. A local physician posted a tweet stating the hospital had only one nurse on duty. “Don’t get sick,” he said. Another person close to the system said chronic underfunding of health care in Canada has meant that it cannot handle the extra strain caused by COVID-19. “Like loading extra mass onto a bridge as you remove girders and supports, it will fail. It is failing.”
That’s not what anyone wants to hear at any time and especially not when they attend the emergency department of our hospital, which many islanders must do as they no longer have a family physician.
Several reasons are no doubt contributing to the staff shortage, and a BC Nurses’ Union campaign at helpbcnurses.ca illuminates some of them.
Locally, health-care authorities have long identified a lack of affordable accommodation as a major contributor, which is why the acquisition of the Seabreeze Inne by the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation (LMHF) for hospital-worker housing was so critical. While the planned-for renovations would not have been completed by now, it is still unfortunate that the project is stalled due to the complicated tenancy conflict.
It’s a reminder that creation of affordable housing for renters and purchasers must be a priority for Salt Spring Island in 2023. Phase III of the Croftonbrook community operated by Islanders Working Against Violence was completed last year, adding 34 new units of valuable affordable housing to the island’s stock. But much more is needed in order to stabilize our community and its essential services.
Until then, people with appropriate rental units for health-care workers are reminded about the LMHF housing information portal, available on its website.
As well, extra respect and kindness expressed towards those keeping our hospital open will go a long way to ensuring it will be there for us tomorrow.