Back in 2014 my community was facing a big problem. Wait times at Eagle Ridge hospital were stretching for hours. Overcrowding left patients waiting for care from beds in the hallways. Health care providers were stretched thin. It was clear that the Emergency Room was in desperate need of expansion, but the path forward was unclear.
At the time, I was serving on Port Moody City Council and the Fraser Health Municipal Government Advisory Council. I heard from community members about the difficulties of accessing health care in the Tri-Cities. Eagle Ridge is Port Moody’s community hospital; pivotal life events occur there every day. Residents wanted to see improvements in the current facilities and a plan for inevitable population growth.
When an operational review of Fraser Health was undertaken that year, I decided to write a letter to the BC Liberal government urging them to address the problems of overcrowding at Eagle Ridge. Even though the letter was unanimously endorsed by our city council, I did not receive any response from the provincial government.
As the 2017 election approached the government at the time finally announced a strategy to fund the ER expansion at Eagle Ridge. This should have been good news for my community, but the proposal included a critical caveat.
It soon became clear that the BC Liberal government had planned to fund the ER expansion by selling off some of the hospital grounds. After my election as Port-Moody Coquitlam MLA, I held community meetings where I heard people’s concerns about the existing plan.
Great community meeting on Saturday. Lots of ideas about seniors care, urgent care and land use. Thank you to everyone who came out and shared your ideas about how Eagle Ridge Hospital can serve #PortMoody #Coquitlam #Anmore and #Belcarrabc better! pic.twitter.com/ElhPQKaPYB
— Rick Glumac (@RickGlumacBC) June 4, 2018
I brought the concerns of my community to the new Minister of Health, Adrian Dix. Rather than ignore the issue, we worked together with Fraser Health to remove the land sale from the equation. Our government committed to funding the expansion of the ER at Eagle Ridge Hospital without relying on the land deal.
Our government is doubling the number of beds in at the Eagle Ridge emergency department – an action that will not only address issues of overcrowding but also help ensure that members of our community can access high-quality health care services when they are needed the most.
For years, health care in the Tri-Cities did not receive the attention it deserved. The former government made little progress on their 2013 promise to deliver a family doctor for every British Columbian, meanwhile, more and more people in the Tri-Cities and across B.C. lost their family doctors and were forced to wait in long lines at walk-in clinics or emergency rooms.
Our government has made improving health care a priority, and in less than two years, we have taken action with our primary health-care strategy, and have established four team-based primary care networks right here in the Tri-cities.
Over the next three years, up to 65 new health-care providers will be recruited to deliver faster access to pre- and post-natal services, care and assessments, mild to moderate mental-health and substance-use services, and better-coordinated services for seniors who are frail and people with complex health issues.
These 12 new doctors, 12 new nurse practitioners, and 41 additional new health-care professionals will utilize team-based care to ensure that when primary care is needed, patients’ needs are being met.
These networks mean that tens of thousands of people who currently don’t have access to primary care in the region will soon have a full range of accessible, everyday health services. We are striving to ensure that no more seniors and others with complex needs fall through the cracks and to stop unnecessary hospital ER visits because patients don’t have access to primary care in their communities.
In short, people in my region – and across B.C. – are going to start getting the health care they need, when they need it.
It has been a rewarding process to take a concern from my city councillor days and to be able to act on it as an MLA. I’m proud to be a part of a government that champions the concerns of every-day citizens and is charting a new path forward for health care in the Tri-Cities. Our government is delivering on emergency room revitalization and access to new primary care centers, and our actions are set to transform everyday health care for people across this province.