By Birgit Stutz
A recent move by the Canadian Red Cross has a lot of locals upset. “The Red Cross, on behalf of Northern Health, came down from Prince George and collected all the things that were supplied by the Red Cross and took them to Prince George,” said McBride resident Barb Jackson. “They brought a U-Haul truck to pick it all up. The Red Cross supplies things that are for after surgery, such as crutches, walkers, canes, toilet risers, and bed railings. Patients were told to bring what they need after surgery home from Prince George on the health bus, but there is no room on there.”
Jackson said another issue that locals have with Northern Health is that two rooms that had been equipped by the Ladies Auxiliary were changed from useful use for patient care into offices. “The maternity and labour rooms were turned into offices for people who aren’t even here all week. They have removed things without any consultation with the community. It’s awful.”
The Ladies Auxiliary donates items that Northern Health won’t provide and that benefit patients. “Now we are only supposed to go through Northern Health and they approve what we buy and donate,” said Jackson. “They want total control over it. There’s nothing we can do. We’re very upset. It’s ridiculous.”
Last Friday, a representative from the Red Cross met with a cross-section of people at the McBride and District Hospital for two hours to discuss the new procedure, and issued a press release late Monday afternoon announcing their decision. “After a very successful community consultation meeting with McBride community members, the Canadian Red Cross will reopen the Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) in the McBride and District Hospital. The doors of HELP were closed on November 24th as a result of low client numbers and insufficient support. After the closure notice was distributed, Red Cross received many phone calls from concerned individuals. As a result, the Red Cross held a community consultation whereby everyone could work together to create a mutually beneficial solution.”
Savannah Westgarde, Community Relations Coordinator for the Canadian Red Cross Northern BC and Yukon Region said, “Twelve community members attended the consultation including Health Care Professionals, representatives from the Robson Valley Health Association, and members of the Village Council. We all worked together to come up with a solution that would benefit everyone. The Red Cross needed to ensure the Society’s Standard Operating Procedures could be followed, and the community needed to ensure that they would have access to clean, safe medical equipment. In the end, we not only came up with a very creative solution, we also were able to open up communication and make way for a solid relationship. This is an amazing example of what happens when a group of concerned citizens come together to create change.”
The solution includes the creation of a new Red Cross emergency supply of medical equipment in the McBride and District Hospital for individuals who have immediate equipment needs. In addition, clients with specialized needs including those who require multiple pieces of equipment because of surgery, weight considerations, or specific pieces of equipment for their home, will now be able to access these items from the Prince George HELP inventory. Equipment that is provided from Prince George will be shipped on the Northern Health Connections Bus and will be available for pick up at the McBride and District Hospital.