Nurses holding flickering candles gathered Monday night to mourn cuts to nursing care at the Trail hospital.
About 60 people carried signs protesting the loss of nursing staff and quality care for patients at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital due to budget restrictions ordered by the Interior Health Authority.
The quiet rally was more beautiful than disruptive but still sent a clear message.
“I want to keep our hospital,” said registered nurse Marilyn York. “They’ve farmed out payroll to Kelowna, scheduling to Cranbrook – we’re just becoming a skeleton of what we were formally,” said the nurse of 25 years who stood with fellow RN Glenna Lynch.
“I want our doctors to stick around,” said Lynch, noting that a soon reduction in operating room time is not only a disadvantage to patients but also may influence doctors to relocate.
Lorne Burkhart, the B.C. Nurses’ Union local coordinator, calls the recent blows to the Trail hospital a “vicious cycle” caused by provincial health care “freezing.”
He’s referring to KBRH soon moving from 20 operating room days per week to 16, the decision to relocate staffing services for the West Kootenay-Boundary to Cranbrook, and to the 23 nurses laid off as part of an in-house restructuring.
Colin and Rose Harpell, members of the Trail Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Seniors, were out to support the nurses, asserting they will need more health care in the future and it’s worth fighting for now.
Frank Marino, IHA’s Trail health services administrator, said “it’s difficult to make changes like this, but I think everyone understands that we do not have unlimited resources for Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. This change is part of staying within our budget at KBRH and providing equitable services at our sites.”
Marino was thankful the rally didn’t negatively impact the hospital, he told the Times via email Tuesday.
“We respect the rights of our staff and, of course, the public to voice their opinions and we appreciate that they did so yesterday in a way that did not impact patients or other staff who were accessing the hospital.
“Staff input is always important, which is why we have been speaking to our staff throughout this process. In working with our nurses and OR manager, we have come up with a solution that minimizes the impacts wherever possible by introducing part-time positions that maintain permanent status.”