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Doctors ask IH for help with services

District council is backing a request from Sicamous’ medical community to provide more services to area residents.

The Sicamous Medical Clinic’s staff and doctors are putting forward a request to Interior Health (IH) to improve health support services in Sicamous. Sought after is a mobile laboratory service so that area residents requiring blood work would not have to travel to the often busy lab in Salmon Arm. The clinic is also seeking a nurse practitioner, funded by IH, who would be shared between Sicamous and Sorrento.

Along with the clinic’s written request to Sicamous council and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District asking for their support, was a letter from Drs. Jack Beech and Rosemary Kelsall, as well a letter from public health nurse Donna Helgeson.

In their letter, Beech and Kelsall note they have been in negotiation with LifeLabs out of Kamloops to provide a mobile lab service twice weekly, but would prefer to have these services provided by IH to the entire community out of the Public Health Centre.

“We have been offering this service from the clinic for 20 years to need the needs of our sick, elderly and economically challenged patients who find access to the central lab in Salmon Arm difficult without considerable help,” the letter states, noting that the need for the service is increasing.

The letter goes on to say that while IH does provide one transportation solution via its Healthy Solutions bus, it helps only a “certain group of health consumers, but is not a responsive as it was supposed to be and has at least an eight-hour-turn around,” making it not viable for many.

In her letter, Helgeson notes the treacherous winter driving conditions between Sicamous and Salmon Arm, and the rising cost of fuel, both of which create a challenge for clients.

“There is the possibility of having the service provided out of the Sicamous Health Unit and I am sure that our programs that operate out of this space currently would be open to dialogue and would support this endeavour,” writes Helgeson.

Recognizing the workload faced by Drs. Beech and Kelsall, Sicamous Mayor Malcolm MacLeod considered both requests to IH well within reason.

“The request to IHA for a possible part-time nurse, and I understand possibly shared with Sorrento, that’s a pretty reasonable request and without a doubt it would benefit the whole Sicamous-Malakwa valley,” said MacLeod. “The idea of the mobile lab service, that just makes sense. It’s a real inconvenience for people right now who need that service to go into Salmon Arm.”

Terry Brent, central area manager of IH laboratory services, says many letters from the community have been received and that the information is under review.

“We are gathering information and examining options, recognizing that there is a process in place at Interior Health for considering future service changes as well as a provincial process regarding approval of new diagnostic facilities,” says Brent.

The mobile lab would service an area of approximately 4,000 residents.

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