Decent health care, an ongoing rural challenge

Dr. Laurie Moss discusses why the Kaslo & Area Medical Care Society was formed

Dr. Laurie Moss, Kaslo & Area Medical Care Society

It’s difficult to imagine a functioning community without access to a school, basic infrastructure, and a critical mass of businesses and services — chief among them, decent rural health care.

For most communities, the standard by which local health care is judged is relatively simple: “do we have reasonable access to 24/7 emergency rural health care?”

For any community of rural region where the answer is “no,” concerns are understandably high. After all, people become ill or injured at any time of the day or night, seven days a week. Sickness isn’t limited to Monday – Friday office hours.  A lack of local 24/7 medical services is problematical for rural BC residents. It also serves to limit the ability to attract newcomers, leery about setting down roots in a place without adequate health care. It can also give visitors pause, particularly in regions where sometimes risky outdoor activities such as cat and heli-skiing or mountain biking are popular.

The small (population 1,000) West Kootenay village of Kaslo has a medical facility run by Interior Health, which provides medical services for the entire North Kootenay Lake region. In response to its limited hours of operation, a group of citizens came together, formed a society, and are striving to establish a parallel, fee for service operation that will offer what the IH facility does not — seven day a week, 24/7 emergency care — the Kaslo & Area Medical Care Society.