One of the many wildfires raging in the B.C. Interior destroyed all but one home in the Boston Flats mobile home park near Ashcroft.—Image credit: Arnold Lim/Black Press

Fires prompt largest IH medical evacuation ever

Patients being squeeze in at facilities in Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna.

The ongoing wildfire situation in the B.C. Interior has prompted the largest evacuation ever of medical patients by the health authority, says CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday from Kamloops, Mazurkewich said more than 400 patients have been moved from health facilities—including residential care homes and medical treatment centres—in Ashcroft, 100 Mile House, Alexis Creek and Williams Lake.

In addition, their health records have had to be transferred in cases where the patients were moved to another health authority’s area.

“It’s all been very complex,” said Mazurkewich.

The majority of the moved patients have been sent to Prince George and Kamloops, with Kelowna General Hospital ready to be a “safety net” if needed, said the IH chief executive officer.

The facilities in Ashcroft, 100 Mile House and Alexis Creek are now closed but the Williams Lake Hospital’s emergency department remains open. However, as a precaution, that hospital’s patients were moved out because of the threat a fire near the city poses.

“I’ve never seen 140 fires break out in a single day and affect so many communities simultaneously,” said Mazurkewich about the escalating wildfire situation on the province.

He said it has been a difficult few days.

During the conference call with reporters, he paid tribute to IH staff—some of whom he said have lot their own homes to advancing wildfires— for the job they are doing accompanying patients to safety in other communities.

“I’m so proud of how everyone has responded,” said Mazurkewich, adding the resiliency they have shown is commendable.

In Kelowna, 21 assisted-living patients from 100 Mile House are currently being put up in a local hotel.

The IH CEO said he met with one woman, who is about to turn 100, and who re-assured him everything will be okay.

“She said we’re going to get through this and it has brought out a real community spirit. She was quite inspiring.”

With space at a premium everywhere, IH officials say they are filling “every nook and cranny” with patients from the affected communities.

In addition to Northern Health taking patients, offers have come in from medical facilities in the Lower Mainland as well.

Meanwhile the heavy smoke that is blanketing the Interior is also causing problems, especially for people with respiratory difficulties.

Medical officials advise those people to stay inside as much as possible, have their medications on hand and if they notice their symptoms increasing, seek medical attention.

The smoke is worst in the Williams Lake area and them Kamloops, said the IH officials on the conference call. While not as bad in Kelowna, it is still noticeable and the entire southern Interior is currently under a smoke warning.

Just Posted

Verdict to be delivered December 15 for three on trial in Anahim murders

The fates of Christian Craciun, Andrew Jongbloets, and Serena Rhem (Mack) will be decided on December 15 at 10am.

‘I fell asleep’ admits second mate in Nathan E. Stewart fuel spill

The tug spilled more than 100,000 litres of diesel off B.C.’s northern coast

Northwest’s new MRI hits milestone

Stakeholders celebrate 500th scan of diagnostic imaging device

Heiltsuk Nation announces plan to establish Indigenous Marine Response Centre

The Heiltusk have since released a report entitled Creating a World-Leading Response Plan

Acwsalcta cultural staff to use black bear for traditional teachings

The remains of a euthanized bear were donated to the Acwsalcta School for cultural teaching

VIDEO: Best photos of the Supermoon 2017

At its closest, the Frost Moon was about 363,300 km away from the Earth

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

VIDEO: Vancouver Whitecaps acquire star striker Kei Kamara

Kamara has 103 goals and 39 assists in 298 appearances over 11 Major League Soccer seasons

Smartphone pedometers underestimate steps, but valuable health tool: study

UBC researchers found the iPhone underestimated steps by 21.5 per cent

VIDEO: ‘Last Jedi’ premiere kicks off with droids, Daisy Ridley

Latests Star Wars film premiered in style ahead of Dec. 15 theatre debut

UPDATE: Poor ventilation likely cause of carbon monoxide incident at B.C. farm

All 42 patients have been released from hospital, according to Delta Fire

BC Lions part ways with three coaches

These are the first personnel moves made by new general manager Ed Hervey

VIDEO: B.C. to end geographic area rent increases, close fixed-term lease loopholes

Both clauses allowed landlords to raise rents above the max annual allowable rent increase

Most Read