Some beds for admissions at Boundary Hospital in Grand Forks will be opening in the next couple of weeks.
In an interview with Vista Radio, Grand Forks Mayor Everett Baker confirmed the plan after a health board meeting and says he’s encouraged.
“We’ll have five intake beds operational which is absolutely fantastic. The fact that they’re not off the table, that was always my biggest concern is once you lose something it’s very difficult to get it back,” Baker said.
It’s some incremental progress for the 12-bed inpatient unit that’s been closed since March 2022 due to a staffing shortage.
“It’s not the full regiment yet but it’s a process and we had gotten two temporary ones back a few weeks ago and it looks like we’re in the progress to get five of our intake beds back. I understand the incentives that Interior Health is offering are starting to take effect a little bit and that’s good,” Baker said.
The mayor is referring to the retention bonuses, incentive pay for long distance travel and $1,500 referral bonuses announced by the Ministry of Health and Interior Health in November 2022.
Baker credits the work of Interior Health, MLA Roly Russell and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary for the progress.
“I was very encouraged because my biggest fear was that once we had lost them it would be very difficult to get them back. But it seems that Interior Health is playing ball with us and that makes me very happy and the citizens should be happy as well.”
Interior Health spokeswoman Ashley Stewart confirms a “small number” of beds will open “soon” for stays less than three days.
Also on the health care front, the mayor is happy with the provincial appointment of Jennifer Rice as parliamentary secretary for rural health. Rice has worked with Grand Forks on Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) through Emergency Preparedness and has visited the city a couple of times. Baker calls her “forthright” and a “person of action.”
“I think Jennifer will be a real asset voice around the cabinet table and certainly to (Health) Minister (Adrian) Dix.”