FORT NELSON, B.C. – Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Health Advocate, Doug Blackie, has been on the job for about a month and a half.

In that time, Blackie has talked to regional counsellors, those who run health and social agencies, Fort Nelson First Nation, B.C. physicians, Northern Health, and BC Emergency Services.

“Trying to get a good sense of what the current state is and what people’s aspirations are for the future, what are the big priorities in the Northern Rockies,” says Blackie.

As part of the consultations, Blackie says a number of different priorities have arisen, including the regionalization of Healthcare Services.

“Over the years, a number of services have been moved from Fort Nelson to places like Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Prince George.”

Blackie says there are lots of reasons why that has taken place, just in regards to patient safety, quality, and the availability of the services. However, it does require travel for those looking for above and beyond normal regular healthcare.

“We have heard stories of people spending $10 [thousand] to $20,000 to travel for cancer care, for example, or individuals and families having to drive nine hours to Prince George when a loved one is receiving care there. So regionalization has resulted in some challenges around transport.”

Regarding a timeline for the NRRM to put forth some solutions, whether that’s looking at innovative or creative ways to provide healthcare, Blackie hopes to have a plan in place in the next couple of months.

“I would say in the next month or so and then, you know, over the summer to really start that work and then double down in the fall.”

The full Moose Talks interview with Doug Blackie can be viewed below.