NDP Health critic Mike Farnworth speaks with Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony in the hallway of Lynnwood Retirement Residence on Tuesday afternoon.

NDP Health critic Mike Farnworth speaks with Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony in the hallway of Lynnwood Retirement Residence on Tuesday afternoon.

Spend existing dollars better: NDP health critic

NDP Health Critic Mike Farnworth stopped by Chilliwack on Tuesday to discuss healthcare with local seniors at Lynnwood Retirement Residence.

NDP Health Critic Mike Farnworth stopped by Chilliwack on Tuesday to discuss healthcare with local seniors at Lynnwood Retirement Residence.

Seniors will make up nearly one-fifth of Chilliwack’s population by 2030. The health concerns brought on by a rapidly aging population are key campaign topics in the upcoming provincial election.

One concern that Chilliwack seniors had is wait times for procedures that greatly affect a person’s quality of life.

“When someone’s having to wait almost three years to get a bladder procedure that takes two hours to be done that prevents him from being incontinent, when you’re 72, that’s pretty debilitating in terms of your ability to live an active and productive life,” said Farnworth.

Farnworth’s message was that it is not a question of putting more money into health care, but rather using existing funds more efficiently.

This applies to Chilliwack General Hospital’s chronic over-capacity emergency room.

“In the Lower Mainland, that’s one of the key issues. We’re growing very fast. It’s not a case of just throwing money at it…There’s different issues in the community. Let’s work with the physicians in those communities. Let’s work with the BCMA (B.C. Medical Association), identity what the issues are…and get them fixed.”

Farnworth did not provide solutions specific to Chilliwack’s context, instead speaking about issues on a provincial level.

“Whether it’s emergency rooms, and having a plan to deal with them, and identifying problems, or gaps in the ability to provide services such as dialysis, it’s not going to take huge amounts of money sometimes to fix some of these problems. Or, it’s a reconfiguration of services within the health authority that will allow additional services.”

To free up resources, Farnworth suggests using technology better, setting up more efficient referral systems, using more nurse practitioners, and hiring more salaried physicians.

On the issue of water chlorination in Chilliwack, Farnworth said that “health and safety have to come first.”

MLA Chilliwack-Hope Gwen O’Mahony said that she is conducting research on the issue, and will present her results at the all-candidates’ debates.

“I have followed up as MLA. I have been writing letters and investigating specific concerns by community members. I’m sure as we head into this election, the chlorination issue is going to come up,” she said.

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