KBRH strives to fill gaps in anesthesiology department

The Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital’s anesthesiology department struggles to fill vacant positions, says a departing doctor.

The Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital’s anesthesiology department has been functioning at a reduced level as the hospital struggles to fill vacant positions, says a departing doctor.

Dr. Kallie Honeywood said when she leaves KBRH June 5 there will only be three people left in the five-person anesthesiology department, making it difficult to cover all of the on call services that a regional hospital needs to function.

And, despite a move two weeks ago in which the B.C. Anesthesiologists Society rescinded a threat to withdraw services province-wide in a contract dispute with the B.C. government, KBRH has been at an abridged service level since another anesthesiologist resigned last fall, Dr. Honeywood said.

“We’re already functioning at those levels because we are so short staffed,” she said. “The job action … is what we are doing on a daily basis. We can’t reduce services anymore because we are already so short staffed.”

In order for the department to cover the on call work, and because no locums have come to cover off for the vacant position when people take vacation or are away, the number of people left in the department to do the work means elective surgery is curtailed.

“We are just barely keeping our heads above water covering the emergency surgical work,” Dr. Honeywood said.

Although the Interior Health Authority (IHA) has been recruiting to get the fifth position filled, KBRH has had some success with locums — people coming in for a short period of time — while other physicians have come in to explore the situation, said Ingrid Hampf, acute care area director for Kootenay Boundary.

“It’s not ideal. We definitely know that having a full team of five (anesthetists) who are dedicated to Kootenay Boundary is our goal,” she said.

With the announcement of Dr. Honeywood leaving, the effort to fill the position has stepped up, Hampf said, with advertisements going out globally for the position. It was from overseas in New Zealand where the IHA’s fourth anesthetist was signed and will be on staff by the end of summer or early September.

In the meantime, KBRH will ensure the remaining anesthetists can actually provide service but

also have some time for themselves, Hampf pointed out. She said they are working with the anesthetists on a plan should the IHA not be able to fill those gaps.

“But it is really premature for us at this point (to speculate) because we certainly have a lot of the hours covered until June,” she explained. “And we do know that typically in the summer months we actually do reduce our surgical volumes because surgeons are off and a lot of patients don’t want to have surgery if they can avoid it in the months of July and August.”

But Dr. Honeywood said the workload she sustained at KBRH destroyed her ability to do her job. The amount of work she has had to do doesn’t allow her to enjoy any of the aspects of the lifestyle she moved here to delve into.

“I’m leaving because I can’t foresee anything changing here, and I’m not willing to commit the next 25 years of my career to this lifestyle,” she said.

Hampf said that isn’t the case with the remaining doctors, nor will service be curtailed at any point because they won’t be able to cover it all. The IHA is working to ensure there will be locum coverage in the department so anesthetists are not overbooked and overworked so they can provide safe care, said Hampf.

“That fifth anesthetist is absolutely critical even though we’ve got the fourth coming at the end of the month. It’s still a critical recruitment for us to get that fifth anesthetist in,” she said. “That way, it ensures that each of our anesthetists can provide quality, and still have a balance with the other part of their life.”

Two weeks ago the government won a temporary injunction against the B.C. Anesthesiologists Society to block any job action. A judge was to hear arguments later this month on whether the injunction should be made permanent, but Interior Health Authority president Robert Halpenny said the promise by the Society not to withdraw services has led to the cancellation of the injunction hearing.

The promise came after the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons sent a letter to the Society and the B.C. Medical Association telling them the issues in dispute must be addressed through the existing negotiations with the province on physician services.

The provincial society had requested a seat at the conciliation table with the B.C. Medical Association and the Ministry of Health as they try to negotiate the physician master agreement.

with files from The Canadian Press

Just Posted

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

A wildfire near Cottonwood Lake was put out by Nelson firefighters Sunday night. Photo: Submitted
Wildfire extinguished near Cottonwood Lake

Lightning-caused fire was near one of Nelson’s water sources

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Most Read