It’s difficult to imagine a functioning community without access to a school, basic infrastructure, and a critical mass of businesses and services — chief among them, decent rural health care.
For most communities, the standard by which local health care is judged is relatively simple: “do we have reasonable access to 24/7 emergency rural health care?”
For any community in a rural region where the answer is “no,” concerns are understandably high. After all, people become ill or injured at any time of the day or night, seven days a week. Sickness isn’t limited to Monday – Friday office hours. A lack of local 24/7 medical services is problematic for rural BC residents. It also serves to limit the ability to attract newcomers, leery about setting down roots in a place without adequate health care. It can also give visitors pause, particularly in regions where sometimes risky outdoor activities such as cat and heli-skiing or mountain biking are popular.
The small (population of 1,000) West Kootenay village of Kaslo has a medical facility run by Interior Health, which provides medical services for the entire North Kootenay Lake region. In response to its limited hours of operation, a group of citizens came together, formed a society, and are striving to establish a parallel, fee-for-service operation that will offer what the IH facility does not — seven day a week, 24/7 emergency care — the Kaslo & Area Medical Care Society.