Q: Access to quality health care remains a concern for many Flin Flon area residents. What should be done in this regard?
Leslie Beck, Liberal Party:
In today’s advanced technological society, access to quality health care shouldn't be a concern as technology exists which offers anyone without access to medical specialists a portal through remote access computers.
These systems, referred to as Telehealth and Doctor-in-a-Box, offer real-time diagnostics for general practitioners, nurse practitioners and nurses working in clinics.
This technology allows patients experiencing physical and/or mental health issues to remain in their communities for diagnosis and follow-up treatments by bringing, through the internet, specialists to local clinics and/or hospitals. The technology also allows for real-time monitoring of a patient’s condition.
Using this technology, management and care of a patient is collaborative and can establish if the patient can continue to be cared for in their home community or whether they require further treatment in a larger centre.
School counsellors in a remote Manitoba community are currently using this technology to assist high-risk youth for suicide where access to mental health professionals is difficult but a necessity.
If elected I would be a strong advocate that where access to health professionals is limited, Telehealth and/or Robotic Doctors would be a viable second option.
Angela Enright, PC Party:
I would look at what Swan River has done to create a health care centre which includes an array of up to date diagnostic and imaging equipment and a state of the art wellness centre.
Given our remote location, where we service surrounding communities of over 15,000 people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, I think it is important to invest in equipment to treat people here rather than burning $100 million on jet fuel every year to fly them to Winnipeg. This just doesn't seem like wise use of taxpayer money.
As well, Greg Selinger now spends over a million dollars a month to put a positive spin on his party. We have already committed to a plan to attract and retain more quality doctors perhaps we can use that money to directly benefit health care services.
In addition, many of our seniors have no option other than to remain in their homes far longer than either they want or for it to be safe for them to do so.
Needless slip and falls can have serious consequences. We are in dire need of assisted living, aging-in-place and seniors residences.
Seniors should not have to leave friends and family behind and move to another community to find suitable and safe accommodation. Our seniors, whom have contributed so much to our community, deserve better, much better.
Caring for the health of our families is important. Caring for the health of Manitobans is a necessity.
Our chance to get on side for these types of investments in our communities is now, when we can elect a member of the Manitoba Legislature who will be writing community development plans as a member of the governing Progressive Conservatives.
I will put the interests of Flin Flon constituents ahead of political correctness.
Tom Lindsey, NDP:
I understand that quality health care remains a concern for many Flin Flon area residents. That’s why we need to continue to make strategic investments in health care, and that’s also why we need to stop Pallister’s Conservatives from making reckless cuts.
When Brian Pallister launched his campaign, he said there were no “sacred cows” when it came to cutting half-a-billion dollars from services that families count on.
In the 1990s, the PCs – which included Pallister in its cabinet – fired 1,000 nurses and drove away 117 doctors. They also cut $1.9 million from the Flin Flon hospital ($8 million from northern hospitals in total). The list goes on.
Manitobans are now healthier and living longer. We now have 732 more doctors than when we saw them leaving our province under the PC government of the 1990s. We’ve also hired 3,714 more nurses, and we aren’t done yet.
The Manitoba NDP will continue to make steady progress in protecting and improving health care, taking steps to take pressure off ERs and reduce wait times.
I will work with my colleagues in the Manitoba legislature to ensure that every Manitoban has access to a family doctor. The Manitoba NDP is also making strategic investments in programs that lead to better health outcomes, such as doubling funding to the Healthy Foods Initiative Fund so that people can access healthy foods. This is another step that will take pressure off our health care system.
I will champion investment in health care equipment in the riding of Flin Flon. I believe our hospital should be the recipient of the newest medical diagnostic equipment so that Flin Flon can attract more specialists, create good jobs and provide services to other areas in northern Manitoba.
Clarence Pettersen, Independent:
The evolution of better health care service in the North is ongoing. One of our needs is an updated emergency room, which I’m pleased to have worked toward over the last four years.
Flin Flon’s was last modernized over 40 years ago. Since then, hospital equipment and technology have changed dramatically. Due to lack of space and other concerns, they can’t be incorporated without the necessary changes.
It’s also important to keep modernizing in order to attract doctors and nurses to the area. I was successful in bringing $23 million dollars for this project. Working with our NRHA, I was also responsible for the new ambulance station, which replaced an outdated and inefficient system.
The NRHA has done a good job bringing doctors into our constituency so that more of us have ongoing care. Regarding my own bout of cancer, I was diagnosed locally and used Telehealth for a few appointments, which saved time and travel.
My wife has enjoyed working with her health practitioner. They are a highly qualified and economically feasible option for northern areas.
Our parents had excellent palliative care here, an option not always available for those down south. I’m proud of our local NRHA and feel as if we’re headed in the right direction compared to where we were five years ago.
Flin Flon’s hospital serves patients from Creighton, Sandy Bay, Denare Beach, Pelican Narrows, Cranberry Portage, Snow Lake and more. We’ll need to continue modernizing and expanding to meet the needs of northerners in our constituency.
Coming changes to the hospital will make it much easier for disabled and elderly people to get in and out of the building. Difficult issues like the bear spray incident will be more easily handled with an updated ventilation system.
We are a mining town. We’ve had major accidents before and I would like to ensure that we have the best possible equipment and people in place. Some in the community were not in favour of these upgrades, but they have become a necessity.
Travel to appointments in Winnipeg are an ongoing concern, helped somewhat by the flight arrangements with Calm Air. Better bus service would definitely improve things.
I would like to see more specialists in Flin Flon on a regular basis, like a pain clinic, for example. I know several people who travel for this regularly and would be saved further discomfort if personnel came to town instead of patients having to leave. It would also save our local NRHA money.
I’m interested to hear more about this from the Flin Flon and area constituents. Please drop by my campaign office beside Pharmasave to discuss your ideas about greater access to quality health care.