Guardian readers seek Kaslo clarification

Guardian readers in the North Kootenays have asked for clarification about the status of Victorian Hospital in the community of Kaslo.

The cover of the most recent issue features a photograph of the town’s Victorian Hospital with a target superimposed on the image, saying, “Victorian Hospital in Kaslo is one of many health care targets in the Liberal government crosshairs.” Some Kaslo members say their facility has not been closed, nor is it slated for closure.

A closure means that a community loses vital health care services. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a building shuts its doors forever. In the case of Kaslo’s Victorian Hospital it means that the facility lost its acute care beds — five of them.

These beds have not been physically removed from the building but have been converted to long-term care beds — increasing their number from 15 to 20, one of which will be used for palliative care.

But people will now have travel to Trail for their acute care needs. That’s a three-hour drive, one way.

Although the emergency ward is staying open in Kaslo, the North Kootenay Lake Save Our Services Committee says that if the ambulance is frequently on the road to Trail on a five-hour round trip, people will not be able to rely on it for emergencies in their own community.

And physicians have expressed their concern that patients in Kaslo (as well as other North Kootenay communities) are in an unsafe situation in serious cardiac, surgical, medical or obstetric emergencies.