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Williams Lake calls for operational review of Cariboo Memorial

Williams Lake city council is calling for an operational review of Cariboo Memorial Hospital after ER closes five nights in one week.
The emergency department at Cariboo Memorial Hospital was closed from 11:30 p.m. on July 9, reopening at 7:30 a.m. July 10.

At a special council meeting on July 9 at city hall, Williams Lake city council voted unanimously to call for an operational review of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

Just after learning of the fifth overnight closure within a week of the emergency room (ER), council discussed the lack of health care coverage in the community.

The hope is an operational review of the hospital could help create a more positive culture of recruitment and retention.

Mayor Surinderpal Rathor said he's not wanting to lay blame, but he instead wants to get to the root of any potential problems within the hospital and how it is being run.

"The whole idea is to find out the weak link," he said, and finding what exactly can be done better.

The council voted unanimously to forward the motion calling for the review.

The review is taking a page out of Clearwater's Mayor Merlin Blackwell's playbook, who reportedly pushed for a review of the hospital in their community. Rathor said things have been much better there since changes were made as a result of a review.

Clearwater, however, is also facing ER closures this week, due to staffing shortages.

Al Richmond, the chair of the Cariboo Regional Hospital District Board, also attended the special meeting remotely to speak to the council. He said staffing issues are region-wide and things have greatly improved in Clearwater since a review was done. He said the review is simply an opportunity for free and open conversations to find out what is really going on.

Rathor said he appreciates the lines of communication council has established with the Interior Health Authority, the Ministry of Health and the regional district board and he and council want to continue to work collaboratively, but he wants to find out how to help improve things.

"This is not acceptable to me," he said, noting in his 50 years in Williams Lake, he has never seen a situation like this.

Rathor said he has spoken to a number of partners, including First Nations and Cariboo Regional District board members, and everyone everyone he has talked to is in support of a review of the hospital operations.


Richmond also detailed some of the work being done to recruit health care practitioners, and said they are spending about $300,000 a year on their recruitment efforts through their landing program and at one point had six homes in the community set aside for visiting professionals. He said they are even looking at potentially purchasing apartments or homes as well.


Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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