Improvements at Arrow Lakes Hospital

Changes are coming to the Arrow Lakes Hospital in several forms.

Members of the Interior Health Authority (IHA) visited the Arrow Lakes Hospital (ALH) recently as part of a tour of the various hospitals in the Kootenay Boundary.

Before their tour of the hospital, Chris Mazurkewich, CEO of the IHA, and Erwin Malzer, the Board Chair, along with staff of the ALH, sat down with local media to discuss important and innovative happenings going on at the hospital.

“We were chatting with the local auxiliary,” said Mazurkewich. “The generous support of the community to help through their efforts to help the hospital is actually quite amazing. We get to see it across Interior Health, and that shows the community support for the hospital, as demonstrated through those donations.”

One such donation is a simulator, which is being used not only here, but across Interior Health to help other hospitals as they educate clinicians how to react to various events.

The simulator is a dummy clinicians can practise on. It’s as close to real life situations and a trauma as possible. Teams can build their skills so when an emergency or trauma does happen, these clinicians have practise, and can better care for their patients.

The dummy also allows staff at rural hospitals to stay current on their training and what to do in a trauma or emergency situation.

Another addition to the hospital is a tele-health system.

With this system, patients are able to have a conference with a doctor or specialist who could be at a hospital in Kelowna, or even Vancouver.

“It’s much more convenient, and generally nurses are in the room, so when the physician is done, the nurse can sit and have a conversation, and help explain to them,” said Marzurkewich. “Sometimes you get bad news, or complicated news, you can’t always digest it, but the nurse is sitting there, and they can take a little more time when the physician is done, and have a conversation.”

Having the tele-health system can also aid with a patient’s mental health.

Often, when a resident living in a more rural area such as Nakusp has a medical appointment, they have to travel at least two hours to get to that appointment, driving through the mountains, sometimes in bad weather. Some might have to stay overnight, meaning accommodation is another factor to think of.

This new system means the patient only has to come to the ALH, and can bring their support system with them if need be.

“I had a case where the patient had a tele-health with the oncologist, and one of the things that made them feel really good was that they brought 17 family members with them,” said Suzanne McCombs, manager of the hospital. “They all stood with their pad and paper. I think that made them feel better, they had their family around them as they had this conversation.”

McCombs thinks these innovations are going to help change how health care is done in the village.

“I see it already, and I think we’re just starting with tele-health,” she concluded. “I think there are a lot of really exciting things in the works right now, I can only see it growing.”


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