Network based systems

Rural Health Network supports BC Ambulance

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Letter to the Editor

(A Open letter to Leanne Heppell, Chief Paramedic of British Columbia Emergency Health Services).

The BC Rural Health Network would like to publicly thank you for your commitment to our Board of Directors on October 26th.

We would also like to emphasize how much we appreciate your approach and your ability to respond directly to questions posed by our team. Many rural residents felt left out of the conversation about their health services. Providing answers and honesty to rural BC circumstances with our ambulances means a lot to our network and we believe the 1.5 million rural residents need it.

Some of the things we see as having great potential for improving services to our rural populations:

– The temporary agreement reached with the union is a good step forward. We agree that the rural ambulance service has many additional challenges compared to urban service delivery and we believe that the financial measures taken will help stabilize the system for a greater number of residents.

– The BCEHS is working on a plan to increase air ambulance services across the province and provide more options to help the most vulnerable in the most isolated areas of British Columbia.

– Recent hiring drives have resulted in high application rates, and while many applications are for relocation requests, they will also help stabilize service when paramedics can work closer to their home communities.

– Your interest in the work of the communities on the development of strategies to improve their local service and listening to their proposals were greatly appreciated. As we continue to engage, we hope to share more potential solutions from the grassroots of our communities.

– Whether you want to remove barriers to enable more non-paramedic drivers to help communities facing reduced services and the inability to get around.

At the meeting after you left, the entire board expressed their gratitude for such an open and transparent conversation. These types of commitments are essential to maintaining the support of rural residents for the BCEHS.

We believe that your approach to us represents a major “C” shift in historical interactions with BCEHS. We believe this sets an excellent example for other organizations on how to engage and interact effectively with their rural communities.

Our optimism about change is tempered by our past experiences of broken promises. This skepticism is due to many years of less than adequate ambulance service in rural communities, but it is also due to many years without having had the type and level of discussion that we had yesterday. It was a big step in the right direction in our opinion and we hope you are too.

Dr. Jude Kornelsen also expressed her desire to see BCEHS participate in our new Implementation Committee.

The Implementation Committee aims to advance rural experiences and transform evidence-based research into policy. The scope of the committee goes beyond issues related to emergency health services, but all health issues tend to overlap. We welcome the assistance of BCEHS in joining our efforts to propose solutions to policy makers.

You have our support. We are encouraged as BCEHS enters a new era of dynamic leadership that will ensure all residents have access to emergency transportation and paramedic care when needed. We look forward to our next meeting and will ensure that information is disseminated to the public through all means available to us as progress is made.

Yours in health and well-being…

Peggy Skelton,

President of the British Columbia Rural Health Network


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