Fernie’s Mayor hopes a temporary closure of the operating room at the Elk Valley Hospital does not become permanent.
This following Interior Health’s decision to remove the service from the Fernie-based medical centre for a few weeks due to ongoing remodelling work.
Mary Giuliano says an extended closure of the O.R. poses a serious risk to both tourism and industry in the Elk Valley.
“We do have the five mines, we have the ski hill, we have all kinds of recreational opportunities and people could get hurt,” Giuliano says. “I’m not sure where IH is going with this. I am hoping that what was said today is true and they are hoping to keep it open.”
The only surgeon in Fernie also retired recently, with the closest operating room in Cranbrook at least an hour’s drive away from the Elk Valley.
Giuliano says a permanent loss of the service would impact deliveries for pregnant patients, as a surgical team needs to be on standby whenever a baby is being born.
“What happens if somebody is ready to deliver a child and needs that service? Needs a cesarean?” Giuliano says. “What happens to a person that has had a heart attack and needs to come to Cranbrook? You cannot depend that the highway is going to be clear all the time.”
Giuliano says bad winter weather has left Elk Valley residents stranded in the past, due to closed highways.
Interior Health says they currently have no plans to change O.R. services in the region.
– Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano
– Jeff Johnson