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Restructured health care system worries Cuthbert



Former CEO Kines says new structure has potential to be a better model

Residents in the Sea to Sky Corridor should not expect drastic changes to their health care system in the near future, despite the recent overhaul of the provincial health care system.

"The message we've been given by the new authority is that it's business as usual... you can't change big organizations like this overnight," said Catriona Park, the director of continuing care under the former Coast Garibaldi Health Services Society.

"Everything is the same right now. Our primary responsibility is to make sure the patients and clients are getting the care they desire," she added.

On Dec. 12 the provincial government scrapped the 52 regional health authorities throughout B.C. and replaced them with five larger health authorities and a Provincial Health Services Authority.

The Sea to Sky Community Health Council and the Coast Garibaldi Community Health Services Society, which previously governed the corridor, were folded into an amalgamated body called the Vancouver Coastal Authority.

In addition to the two health authorities in the corridor, this merger brings together the former Vancouver, Richmond and North Shore health regions, as well as the Powell River and Sunshine Coast Community Health Councils.

"They undid six years of structure, six years of people volunteering their time, for the new structure that they believe to be more efficient," said Fran Cuthbert, the former chair of the Sea to Sky Community Health Council Board. "It's a bit of a let down in some respects."

The old health authority boards, comprised of volunteer members like Cuthbert, were dissolved the same day the Liberals announced the province-wide changes to the system.

"The concern, from having served on the health council for the last six years, is our representation," said Cuthbert. "Now we don't know what the board structure will be. I think the community should be very concerned about this."

The provincial government appointed Keith Purchase, former executive vice-president and CEO of MacMillan Bloedel, to chair the new Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Board.

Purchase will be appointing new board members by the end of January but at the moment, there is no indication how many will be chosen.

"There are concerns because of the uncertainty (of the whole situation)," said Brian Kines, the former CEO of the Sea to Sky Community Health Council.

Under the new Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Kines has become an interim manager for the corridor.

He remains positive about the changes.

"The early signs are that it certainly has the potential to be a better model than the previous one," he said.