On Mar. 21 at the District of Houston council chambers, a memo requesting for more beds for the Houston Health Centre was brought to the attention of the Houston council.
The memo was an email from Rob Newell, Rural Director for Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, stating there “there is an urgent to increase the care beds at the Houston Health Centre.”
Presently there are six beds at the Houston Health Centre. Four residential beds, one respite bed, and one palliative bed. In comparison to nearby communities like Burns Lake, this is a small amount to serve a surrounding population of about4000, said Newell.
“Burns Lake has 36 beds serving a population of five to six thousand. Even at this they are quite often at capacity. It is therefore readily apparent that Houston is drastically under-served in its number of care beds,” said Newell.
Newell says that even if there are beds available in Smithers or Burns Lake, patients should not have to undergo the stress that comes from leaving their community and support services.
“People from this area are sent to Smithers, Prince George, and Burns Lake and it’s just not acceptable. They are being taking away from their families. You are taking away their local support. It impacts them and their families to not be able to visit them,” said Newell.
More beds for the Houston Health Centre has not been approved yet, but Newell says he doesn’t see why it wouldn’t be.Newell and Shane Brienen, mayor of Houston, will be bringing up this request to the next North West Regional HospitalDistrict (NWRHD) meeting on Mar. 17.
“One of the advantages is that the Houston mayor does participate in the meetings with the NWRHD,” said Newell.
Right now there is no set number as to how many beds Newell and Brienen are looking into for the Houston Health Centre.But Newell says that they’ll push to the maximum of what they can get.
“What we have to look at is the room style, and the area we have outside, it has to be a secured area. It would be better if the beds were on the ground floor to monitor,” said Newell.
When asked if Newell foresees the District of Houston having to contribute financially to receive the beds, Newell responded that in a sense Houston does because it is tax dollars that is going into the hospitals.
“It is not only Houston that these beds would serve, but the area surrounding the community as well. So we are talking about four to five thousand people, six beds is definitely not enough,” commented Newell.
Houston council received the memo with the direction to state in the request that the Houston Health Centre is the smallest care unit in the province.