The senior population is growing faster in Prince George than anywhere else in the province, and to meet that increased capacity Northern Health is looking at all the programs it provides in terms of geriatric care, however no changes have yet been decided upon.
“We’re looking at improving quality and access, we’re not closing the GAT unit or reducing services,” said Michael McMillan, COO of Northern Health.
McMillan, who was unavailable for comment at press time on a story published last week in the Free Press regarding concerns from a patient at the Geriatric Day Hospital and lead doctor Douglas Drummond, spoke about the issue in a phone interview.
A press release following publication of the story states, “Over time, Northern Health would like to increase the capacity to see clients, improve service delivery, and reduce gaps and duplication of service for elderly people in Prince George. No changes have been implemented at this time during the course of the discussions and if changes are made, they would be discussed with the clients prior to implementation.”
Integrating services and ensuring more seniors can access them is becoming increasingly important, McMillan added. He said the many doctors and nurses who work at the GAT unit have been part of the discussions slated to accomplish that goal.
He added Drummond was planning on leaving in the spring, and he’s disappointed he’s leaving four months early.
“I don’t know why he said the program is being gutted,” he added, saying he couldn’t speak to Drummond’s statement. “We are committed to working with people to create the right service mix.”
He said though Drummond is the only geriatric doctor in the north, there is an outreach program that brings in those doctors, and Northern Health will be working to recruit a replacement.
He added there is no plan to cut hours to the Geriatric Day Hospital, however they having been looking at changing things so the four-hour block put aside for it in the middle of the day might be shifted to morning and afternoon sessions for the convenience of more people.
This, he said, does not mean the four-hour sessions will be reduced to two-hour sessions. The same amount of time will be provided, just in a different way.
“It may be different, but no decisions have been made. We want to integrate and expand the capacity in that program. We are not looking to reduce resources,” he said.
However, like many other entities, he said Northern Health is looking at ways to find efficiencies so more people can be aided while care is enhanced.