Health care coming closer to home By Don Anderson For a man who's about to lose his job, Bill Chrysler is pretty upbeat. Chrysler is the Whistler Health Care Centre's interim administrator, a semi-successor to Bev Wylie who served as the centre's first administrator and most vocal supporter. Wylie is now in Victoria; Chrysler is unsure where he'll be in a couple of months. Thrust into this compromising position more than a year ago, Chrysler has seen a lot — the good, the bad and the ugly. In a medical centre that boasts the highest trauma rate per capita in the province, the ugly is hard to avoid. But it has been fun, he says, and judging by his rapport with staff Chrysler will be sorely missed. By mid-month he is expected to be replaced by a new senior administrator who will oversee the entire region's health centres. The move is all part of the NDP government's plan to regionalize health care through its Closer to Home initiative. Under the current structure, each hospital and medical centre in the Sea to Sky Corridor has a board of directors and an administrator. The Closer to Home plan will dissolve these independent hospital boards, and others across the province, and replace them with community health councils. Locally, the Sea to Sky Health Council will oversee the region's health centres and services, from Squamish to Pemberton. "That is a big change," say Chrysler, "and then part of that restructuring is going to be administrative efficiencies that will be upgraded." Call it an administrative overhaul, if you will. Instead of having one administrator for each hospital, there will be a lone senior administrator running the corridor's medical centres. The new program, resulting from a Royal Commission report in 1991, is anticipated to be in place by June. One main area of concern is the future of existing staff. "No one really knows what it is going to be like," says Whistler Health Centre head nurse Francesca Cole, of the proposed change. "The structure above us will change… we may end up sharing an administrator with Pemberton. Who knows?" Chrysler says the system overhaul will be more efficient and reduce levels of bureaucracy. He calls is a "workable system" although he, too, is unsure what it will mean for staff at the centre. "I'm really hesitant to say job loss… but there are some efficiencies to be gained," he says, "by reducing duplications of administrative structures and services." Either way, Chrysler says the new plan is a welcome addition to health care, and he believes the NDP's blueprints won't be skewed even if the Liberals win the May 28 provincial election. Too much to gain, he says. "The big thrust is instead of having health decisions based out of Victoria, Victoria is saying 'we will allow the decisions to be made closer to home by these community health councils and mutual health boards." During his tenure in Whistler, Chrysler has had the opportunity of viewing the system from an outsider's viewpoint. What he has seen so far he likes. "(Whistler) just strikes me as a healthy community on the surface," he says. But there are some obvious areas that need to be reviewed. The number of trauma cases and emergency situations that the centre handles, he says, overshadow the real health concerns of the community. "I do sense there is a real need to look at the stronger determinants of health," he says. And that is exactly what the new senior administrator will be reviewing, likely with the assistance of a management team, beginning over the next few months.