The issue of patient transfers (medevac) sometimes only being a one-way trip for northern residents was one of the topics discussed at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Victoria.
According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, if the healthcare team determines that a patient does not require paramedic care to return home, the patient will be responsible for arranging his or her own return transportation.
Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach discussed this issue with B.C.’s minister of health and Northern Health representatives, and expects to hear proposed solutions within the next month. Beach was the only Village of Burns Lake representative at this year’s UBCM convention, which allows local governments to bring topics of interest to the table with individual ministries.
He said UBCM meetings are typically only 15 minutes long and don’t provide immediate solutions to local governments.
“Typically ministry staff take notes during each meeting; they then research possible solutions and report back to the minister,” explained Beach. “Once the minister has had an opportunity to review the file, ministry staff are directed to reply; the response generally comes within a few months.”
A planned meeting to discuss the issue of a brownfield site in Burns Lake did not take place during this year’s UBCM.
“The meeting with the ministry was unable to be accommodated due to a high volume of requests,” explained Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach. “However, the ministry received the concerns and will respond as soon as they can.”
Located on the corner of Francois Lake Drive and Hwy. 35 in Burns Lake, the site was found to be contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons in the 1990s. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can have significant health effects, including, but not limited to, cancer.
Although the eight-acre site is located adjacent to Burns Lake, the provincial government says the lake is unaffected by the contamination.
Mental health and addictions
Mayor Chris Beach also discussed Burns Lake’s growing issue of mental health and addictions during the recent UBCM convention.
“Council feels strongly about the need for improved access to early prevention programs, more timely medical attention and the need for outpatient follow-up care,” said Beach. “Also discussed was the government’s mental heath and addictions strategies, and what is being done to improve the delivery of quality mental health and addictions services to patients in the Burns Lake area.”
“The meeting went very well and the ministry will hopefully reply within the month,” he added.
Internet and cellphone connectivity
When it comes to Internet and cellphone connectivity, Mayor Chris Beach asked what is being done to increase access to rural and remote areas and increase Internet connection speeds.
“Broadband connectivity allows local businesses to remain competitive, it supports education and enhances the delivery of public services to residents, as well as provides residents with a gateway to information,” explained Beach.
“The ministries will reply when they have reviewed our topics,” he added.