IF words don’t work, perhaps pictures will.
That could very well be the City of Terrace’s strategy as it joins in the call for the province to replace the aging Mills Memorial Hospital.
The idea of using images was brought up today by councillor Sean Bujtas as council discussed the ins and outs of how it would approach provincial cabinet ministers on a number of local issues at a series of meetings planned for next month in Vancouver.
In particular Bujtas said pictures of the inadequate patient washrooms at Mills would come in handy to help convince the province a new hospital is in order.
Those pictures, said Bujtas, would show that it is impossible to fit a patient in a washroom with someone else who might be needed to assist the patient.
“You just can’t do it and close the door,” said Bujtas.
The problem, which would particularly hamper patients in wheelchairs, became apparent during a recent tour by local officials of the facility, which has main portions first opened in 1961.
Councillor Michael Prevost added that the hospital also has infection prevention challenges and that patients share washrooms.
“In a modern hospital you don’t have that,” he said of the latter situation.
Councillor Stacey Tyers added that the showers in the hospital’s psych ward are also inadequate.
Council members debated the challenge of convincing the province to approve of a new hospital given that the region has lost one persuasive point – the prospect of increased population based on the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and pipelines.
“We need a new hospital regardless of major projects,” said Bujtas.
The city’s position that a new Mills hospital is needed is contained in briefing notes it will send to government ministers indicating the Northern Health Authority wants the hospital to become a trauma centre, offering the same level of service as the main hospital in Prince George.
“We don’t have the operating theatre for orthopedic surgery,” said mayor Carole Leclerc of one of the services that would be included with the higher trauma centre classification.
That’s unlike Kitimat and Prince Rupert which do have the facilities for orthopedic surgery without being designated as a higher level trauma treatment centre.
All council agreed that because of Terrace’s central location, Mills has become a regional hospital for people living hundreds of kilometres and hours away from the city.
Next month’s meetings with cabinet ministers is in Vancouver during which Terrace will bring up a list of local issues, and it coincides with the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.