Seniors advocates have no intention of giving up when it comes to improving wait times at the blood collection clinic in Trail, even after the group received a discouraging reply from the Interior Health Authority (IHA).
“The Seniors Advisory Committee, which met today (Friday, June 21), was not happy with the response from IHA,” began city appointee Coun. Robert Cacchioni.
“The next steps that the committee authorized, is to have me contact the IHA for a better response,” he told the Trail Times. “By motion at the committee today, they asked me to contact the two individuals noted on the letter and raise the issue of their response and some other issues.”
To clarify, following the group’s inaugural meeting in April, the 15-member panel identified laboratory wait times as its top priority to address on behalf of seniors.
The committee subsequently sent a letter to IHA essentially asking why the wait times are so long. They also included some suggestions about easing wait times for the most vulnerable, such as scheduling fasting diabetic patients to a specific hour or day.
According to Interior Health’s written reply, reasons for long wait times include, but are not limited to, four main factors; staffing shortages, the inherent nature of a walk-in service, type of tests ordered, and space limitations.
Further, IH stated its current benchmark guideline is that 90 per cent of patients be seen within one hour. This target, according to Interior Health’s 2019 statistics thus far, was met in February, March and May.
IH confirmed this benchmark was not met in January and April, citing staffing shortages and training of new staff.
The letter did not incorporate any foreseeable resolution, but Interior Health did confirm staff would review the panel’s proposal to set aside certain times for fasting patients.
This is not a response the advisory committee is willing to settle on.
“One issue is the fact that the lab will be open at eight and the door downstairs will be locked,” Cacchioni said. “They (the committee) want a bench outside and also a bench upstairs close to the lab, for overflow.”
More so, the group is keeping the dialogue open about lack of room for additional collections chairs.
“If the space is an issue as noted in the letter then why isn’t IHA going for an alternate space,” Cacchioni reasoned.
“As an example, one of the buildings downtown or perhaps even at the mall which has bathrooms and seating for seniors.”
And, instead of back-and-forth with no end in sight, members are seeking a time frame for service improvements.
They have asked Coun. Cacchioni to contact IHA to ascertain this.
“We noted that there is a lab in Rossland, but it is only open one day per week, and also there is the opportunity to use the lab in Fruitvale at the doctors’ office,” he emphasized.
“These still don’t make up for the load of citizens requiring blood testing.”
Notably, the committee is encouraging all those experiencing a long wait time, or anyone who doesn’t get proper testing because he/she fasted too long, to contact Interior Health and voice their concerns.
“The group today represents virtually all seniors in the area and most of the citizens in the area,” Cacchioni said. “The committee is hopeful that there is some resolution to this issue and I will be raising the concern at Monday’s (council) meeting.”
Aside from lab wait times, other matters the committee will delve into include housing and transportation for seniors.
Members selected to head the committee were announced earlier this year.
Representing the city, in addition to Coun. Cacchioni, are councillors Carol Dobie and Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson as well as Trisha Davison, director of parks and recreation. Other members include a Registered Nurse from Interior Health and frontline workers from the Trail FAIR Society and the Society for the Protection and Care of Seniors.
The committee’s primary mandate is to serve in an advisory capacity on matters impacting the local senior’s population, such as programs and municipal services.