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More health care funding could be on the way

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The Sea to Sky Community Health Council is optimistic that more funding is on the way after the Feb. 16 announcement that an additional $43,075 would be provided for nursing over the next two years.

The Whistler Health Care Centre received approximately $8,000 of the funding for nursing education, specifically to cover the costs of triage training workshops. Hilltop House in Squamish received about $35,000 to hire a half-time registered nurse to reduce workload pressures.

"We applied for 13 specific projects and received approval for two," says Brian Kines, CEO of the Sea to Sky Community Health Council.

"We made a number of applications that would enrich staffing at each of the sites in Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton… and there were a number of other education components as well, and money for half-time staff."

Kines says he is not sure why just two applications received approval, but was aware that it wouldn’t be easy competing with every other health organization in the province.

"There certainly is a great variability in how much each area receives," he says. "It was not intended for the funding to be split up equally among everybody, but decisions were based on the merits of the applications from the ministry’s perspective, based on the priorities they saw."

Last December, the provincial government announced a $108 million health action plan to provide new funding for provincial health services. That money was divided into grant parcels for doctors, nursing, home services and support, and hospital beds. The nursing grant program, which kicked $43,000 into the Sea to Sky Community Health Council, was part of the $20.78 million grant parcel.

Whistler physicians have already received a part of that funding, according to Kines, and more might be on the way.

"The first part was physician in rural areas compensation for being on call and retention (and) recruitment funding, and we’ve received about $745,000 over a one-year period for our physicians," he says.

There is another $9.3 million to provide home nursing and home support services "and we’re not sure what is being allocated at this time to the Sea to Sky area," said Kines.

The ministry has already announced 64 long-term care beds for the Sunshine Coast and Sea to Sky areas, "and we have not finalized where those beds are going."

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