City urged to keep up push for new Mills hospital

Directors of the REM Lee Hospital Foundation in Terrace, B.C. declare that northerners have paid their dues for health projects.

Concept drawing of a new Mills Memorial Hospital on current hospital grounds.

An open letter to:

Mayor Carol Leclerc and Council, City of  Terrace

 

Dear Mayor and Council:

As longtime volunteers and honorary directors of the Dr. R.E.M Lee Hospital Foundation in Terrace, B.C., we are appalled at the lack of empathy shown to the citizens in the north in regards to health care.

We have been residents for decades, raised our families who have in turn raised their own families and we have been through and watched the ups and downs of the area.

We are not ‘cap in hand’ people. We are doers. Supporting health care for the betterment of others in our area has been our own personal mandate.

Our foundation evolved from remarks made by the late Dr. R.E.M. Lee at a retirement departure dinner held in his honour in 1987.

Dr. Lee advised that it was his dream to have a medical referral centre in the Pacific Northwest situated in Terrace and stated the need for a CT scanner, as there could be no modern medicine without one.

From that event, a group of five businessmen founded a solely volunteer organization that was incorporated under the Societies Act in 1988. It became known as The Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation.

The foundation has been instrumental in coordinating and raising funds for such pieces of equipment as a CT scanner (twice!),  opthalmology, which has now become a regional service, a colonoscopy suite and even an instrument sterilizer for the operating room.

The current project is the replacement of urology equipment. Money for this should have been placed in a contingency fund as it was well known that when retirement was imminent for the urology specialist, new more modern equipment would have to be obtained in order to encourage a new specialist to our area.

But like everything else along the way, there’s no contingency fund, so the foundation was asked to raise $100,000 towards new instruments.

We have been very fortunate that we have an excellent reputation as “doers”. This organization has been fully supported over the years by private taxpayers, businesses,  corporations and community organizations.

Our present hospital was opened in 1961.

It has served its purpose very well over the years, but like older buildings and technologies, it has had its day.

Mills Memorial Hospital is the hub hospital for the catchment area covering Burns Lake to Haida Gwaii and from Kitimat north to the Yukon border.

We need a facility that is set up for the present day medical services and patient care.

We deserve a new facility.

Four years ago in 2012, when it became apparent that a replacement should be more seriously looked at, a committee was set up to go about seeking future plans for the hospital.

Information has been gathered for the past four years and we are shocked at health minister Terry Lake’s announcement that he was not in favour of conducting a business case study, even though the Northern Health Authority and the North West Regional Hospital District are willing to pay for one.

Since 1988 we have raised more than $3.5 million toward upgrading and enhancement of medical services in Terrace.

It is our time – northerners have paid our dues several times over.

Please speak for us, let your counterparts know that health care is part of the infrastructure of the Canadian fabric, that we are part of a universal health care system in Canada.

We and those who reside, visit and travel through our area deserve to have decent health care. Anything less is compromising the quality of life for all.

William McRae, Helene McRae, Eileen Kennedy,

Honorary directors,

The Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation,

Terrace, B.C.