FORT NELSON, B.C. – Peace River North MLA Dan Davies says he’s getting more and more phone calls from frustrated Fort Nelson residents about the lack of lab services at the Fort Nelson General Hospital.

Specifically, he’s hearing that blood work is being processed in Fort St. John due to a lack of qualified staff in Fort Nelson.

Davies penned a letter to the president and CEO of the Northern Health Regional Office, and he sent a copy of the letter to Mayor Gary Foster and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Council.

“It is my understanding that there are no lab technicians at the Fort Nelson General Hospital but rather two lab assistants, one is leaving within the month and the other is not completely trained yet,” wrote Davies in a letter to Cathy Ulrich, President and Chief Operating Officer, Northern Health Regional Office.

“It is also my understanding that recruitment to hire a lab tech has been unsuccessful to date.”

Appearing on Moose Talks in November 2021, Mayor Gary Foster said more people are needed in healthcare.

“At the ministry level, things need to be done here and they need to be done differently. You need more people in healthcare is the bottom line. Sure, COVID-19 has been a big impact on this, but there are other underlying issues in the healthcare system that are presenting a lot of challenges to citizens,” said Foster.

“If you have chest pain, you go to the hospital and the first thing they do is draw blood. They want to know if you’re having a heart attack or if it’s something different. They analyze that blood in Fort St. John or Dawson Creek right away. In Fort Nelson, without those lab technologists, we’re at a disadvantage here.”

In Davies’ letter to Ulrich, he shares the concern of his constituents, and he feels their safety is being compromised.

“There are huge implications in case of an emergency. There is no ability to do hemoglobin test, no way to measure white blood cell counts, no way to effectively tell how bad an infection is. In an emergency scenario these types of things can’t wait a day, they are needed right then and there. There is a genuine fear in this community that long term Northern Health plans on centralizing as much as possible in Fort St. John. The latest case of laboratory testing is not helping the matter.”

Addressing the questions his constituents have raised, Davies asked Ulrich the following questions:

“What reassurances can you give my constituents in the Northern Rockies that this is not the case? How long can we expect laboratory testing to be done outside of the community? Are there any safeguards that have been put in place in case of an emergency? Have staff been consulted?”

At the January 10th NRRM council meeting, the letter was received for information.