Changes proposed to service levels at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital

An internal report from the provincial government is proposing a significant shift in medical service on the North Coast.

An internal report from the provincial government is proposing a significant shift in medical service on the North Coast.

The Rural Health Services in B.C. policy paper proposes changing medical service in the Northwest into a “hub and spoke” model of service delivery, essentially moving a number of services from the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital to Terrace.

The subject was brought up in a recent legislative committee meeting, with comments on the policy paper being made by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice in the minutes of the meeting.

“The paper, which hasn’t been implemented … proposed some pretty dramatic changes on how surgeries would be performed in the Northwest,” said Rice.

Rice wanted it put on the record that she and many North Coast constituents view Prince Rupert as a hub, serving a number of outlying communities including people from Haida Gwaii and Aboriginal communities.

“Those constituents that raised the issue of this internal report have expressed strong needs, that they would like the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital to remain … a regional hospital providing surgical services.”

In the minutes, B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake states Northern Health recommended a hub and spoke model in the region.

“It’s critical that, if you’re doing surgery, there be a necessary volume. I know if I’m having surgery, I’d rather go to some surgeon that’s doing a lot of those procedures rather than one who only does one once a week,” said Minister Lake, adding there’s an opportunity to increase services as communities grow and volumes increase.

“When you look at Prince Rupert … there’s a lot of activity — real economic activity now but potential economic activity and population growth — in that region. Then the volumes … would go up, and that changes the kinds of service levels that you would expect to have.”

Northern Health did not immediately return Northern View requests for comment regarding the policy paper.