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Seniors group tackles wait times at Trail medical lab

Advisory committee sent a letter to Interior Health

A few months in and the newly formed Seniors Advisory Committee is already tackling a problem others can likely attest to, no matter their age.

Wait times at the blood collection clinic in the Trail medical building was identified as the top priority for the 15-member panel to address following their first meeting in April.

“We are there to look out for the interests of the seniors in our community and not just ‘to meet,’” city appointee Coun. Robert Cacchioni told the Trail Times. “The committee considers this to be a paramount concern not only for seniors, but also the community at large,” he added.

“And all of the 13 people representing organizations and general citizens (agreed) that this must be dealt with.”

Cacchioni subsequently reported the group’s consensus at the next city council meeting, in mid-May.

With backing from Trail council members, the committee then sent a letter to the Interior Health Authority (IHA) inquiring about lab wait times, and asking two specific questions.

They collectively queried, “Why are the wait times so long?” and “Is this a staffing or budgetary issue, or the inability to find and retain professional staff?”

“The letter is very clear that we would like an analysis of the situation and some resolution on the part of IHA,” Cacchioni said.

“Both of these should be done within a reasonable timeframe. If we don’t get it answered, I will be bringing it up in open council so the entire community will know what we have done and possibly what the IHA has not done.”

The committee also generated some suggestions that might help improve wait times, and those ideas were listed in the letter to IHA.

Those suggestions include: retain a person to do the clerical work, thus allowing the technicians more time for blood work; set aside a specific number of days and an early time for those patients who have fasted; structure the testing of diabetic patients in the same manner as patients who have fasted; and, if possible, hire additional technical staff to speed up the testing process.

“When I went down the other day for a blood test there were 17 people at the door at 8 o’clock,” Cacchioni said. “Some were elderly, and two had canes. Further, the bathrooms were locked and could not be accessed until someone opened the doors either to the lab or the doctors’ offices.”

He was also informed that the doors will remain locked until 8 a.m.

“We needed seating in the hall and now we will need seating outside if everything is held up till 8 a.m.,” Cacchioni added.

“I realize there are issues in hiring, but I also believe that it is IHA’s responsibility to provide an adequate service not only to seniors but also to the general public.”

Of note, is that Interior Health did reply to the committee this week.

The contents of that letter, however, will not be revealed publicly until the Seniors Advisory Committee reconvenes on June 21.

“Two of the recommendations that we put forward in the original letter are under consideration,” Cacchioni shared. “But I am disappointed in the response.”

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.

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