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Ministry of Health details ways it is trying to fix problems at RIH

Kamloops council met with Interior Health and the ministry on Nov. 26 to discuss numerous issues at the hospital
Royal Inland Hospital
Royal Inland Hospital is in downtown Kamloops, at Columbia Street and Third Avenue.

The Ministry of Health is outlining ways in which it is working toward staffing improvements at Royal Inland Hospital, in the wake of a meeting between Health Minister Adrian Dix and Kamloops city council.

On Nov. 26, council, Interior Health representatives and health ministry brass met behind closed doors to discuss a wide variety of issues at the hospital.

RIH has been the subject of various problems, including having a patient die in the ER waiting room, experiencing numerous COVID-19 outbreaks, which have led to many cancelled surgeries, suffering through a shortage of employees and having nurses and doctors telling KTW the hospital’s new electronic charting system is impacting myriad aspects of their jobs

KTW reached out to the ministry and received an emailed statement, which noted the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires have put “immense pressures” on the health-care system this year.

“Despite some of the challenges, we’re confident both long-term and short-term measures centred on recruitment will reduce capacity challenges,” the ministry statement said.

Efforts identified to add staff and capacity include:

• Funding of $1 million, approved earlier this year by Interior Health, for the RIH emergency department to increase baseline staffing to match volumes. Rotations to incorporate these new positions are under development;

• Interior Health established a recruitment team dedicated to RIH to streamline the hiring process and shorten the time to fill vacant positions;

• RIH added a physician at triage, which provides more rapid treatment and discharge through the emergency department when appropriate.

In addition, the ministry stated it has taken a number of steps to recruit nurses and that, since Sept. 13, 63 new registered nurses, 20 new licensed practical nurses and six new health-care assistants were hired at Royal Inland Hospital.

Since Jan. 1, RIH has hired 115 nurses (RNs and LPNs) and 41 student nurses. The recruitments have allowed RIH to fill five additional LPN float lines. New LPN grads are expected from Sprott Shaw College. Nurses who want to move into the emergency department are being paid for specialty training. The ministry said that between 2017 and 2020, the number of registered nurses in B.C. increased by six per cent and the number of specialty nurse seats doubled.

“There have been more challenges in Kamloops than just about anywhere else in Interior Health and that’s required additional effort and support,” the ministry statement reads. “The meeting centred on these efforts taken so far and continue to ensure everyone in Kamloops receives the quality health care they deserve.”