The Keremeos Diagnostic and Treatment Centre isn’t running out of patients, but many residents who use the lab clinic have been – running out of patience – lately.
There have been several complaints about lengthy wait times at the clinic, in some cases in excess of two hours.
Keremeos resident Gary Johnson noticed the problem earlier this year when he assisted a neighbour who required regular blood work.
“It was far easier to take my neighbour up to Penticton hospital to the lab there, have the work done in a couplc of minutes and return to Keremeos,” Johnson related, noting that several times, upon his return to Keremeos, the same patients he left in the waiting room were still waiting upon his return. Johnson also personally experienced long wait times.
Another Similkameen resident, who wished anonymity, noted that the lengthy waits make it especially difficult for working people to access the clinic, as they could lose a good part of their morning for a five minute lab visit.
Johnson wrote several emails to Interior Health, asking for an explanation for the long wait times. He felt there was an inequity between staffing levels at the Keremeos, Summerland and Penticton labs, but Interior Health’s response was to tell Johnson that an additional lab assistant would be available in Keremeos on Tuesday and Wednesday for an additional four hours per day.
“They didn’t address the inequity I mentioned,” Johnson said, “it was a political response to the problem, which means they won’t be doing anything.”
Terry Brent, Director of Lab Operations for the Central Region of Interior Health told the Review last week that IH was aware of the issue.
“We’re trying to find ways to address the issue. We’re currently investigating the reasons why this is happening,” Brent said. “In the interim, we’re adding some additional staff time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which appear to be the busiest days.”
Brent said that this arrangement was now in its third week, and appeared to be helping with wait times.
“We don’t like to see times that high,” she added, “our intent is to address it, and staff at Keremeos say that the additional help is making a difference. A longer term solution is being sought.
Input from Keremeos physicians is also being sought as part of the solution, Brent concluded.
“We want to make wait times in Keremeos better,” she said.