Mission physician Dr. Andrew Edelson, who has been practicing in Mission since 1974, spoke at the event. / Kevin Mills Photo

Mission group hopes to shape the future of health care

The Mission Community Health Partnership wants to improve the local hospital

A group of concerned Mission residents – led by Ken Selvaraga, owner of Lanka Jewels and a long-time community supporter – want to see improvements made to Mission Memorial Hospital.

On Monday night, at the Mission Golf and Country Club, the group hosted a dinner to help spread their ideas to a vast array of community members.

Calling themselves the Mission Community Health Partnership, the group wants to raise awareness of the positive aspects and challenges facing Mission’s hospital and plan for ways to shape the future of healthcare in the community.

One of several guest speakers at the event was long-time Mission physician Dr. Andrew Edelson, who has been practicing in Mission since 1974.

Currently the site medical director at Mission Hospital, Edelson explained to the crowd that his comments come from his community role, not his official administrative role.

“I think the community needs to be more involved in our hospital… The community needs to be better informed about what Mission Hospital can do, what we do well and what we need in order to enable us to continue to provide the valuable services to this rapidly growing community.”

He said he’s encouraging people to get political

“Personally I believe there is great value in a smaller community hospital.”

Edelson said community hospitals provide timely and personal health care to the public.

Edelson was practicing here in 2002 when the Fraser Health Authority closed Mission’s two operating rooms, the ICU and the obstetrical unit.

“Those were dark times.”

At that time there were some fears that the hospital might shut down entirely, but it never happened. Now Edelson says some progress has been made as Mission has created a stronger relationship with the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, and has seen improvements in its emergency services. More patient beds have been added and other improvements have been made since 2002.

However Edelson said there are some big needs at the hospital that he feels the community can help with.

“We desperately need a CT scanner in Mission Hospital.”

Currently physicians have to ship patients to Abbotsford to perform a CT scan.

While a case has been made regarding the need for a CT scanner, and Abbotsford Hospital and Fraser Health both supported the idea, Edelson said medical imaging falls under the Provincial Health Services Authority (the province) and has not yet been approved.

He also said a lot of laboratory equipment is old and needs to be replaced, which also falls under the jurisdiction of provincial authority.

“We do not seem to be a priority.”

Edelson said there is a need to recruit more physicians to the community adding that Mission is short by about 16 general practitioners.

“We need more community involvement in the decisions that affect the community’s access to needed timely healthcare.”

Also speaking at the event was Dr. Hector Baillie, who used to work at the Mission Hospital, but now practices in Naniamo.

He entertained the crowd with a humourous account of his arrival in Mission from Scotland, with a chilly stop in Winnipeg.

He also pointed to a frightening attitude that seems to exist regarding community hospitals.

“What they’re teaching doctors now is, if you can’t cut it, the default is to go into the community,” he said, adding that the opposite should be true.

As for Mission’s future, Baillie had a few comments.

“You have to have a hospital designed to meet the demands or the requirements of the community,” he said.

He added that community centres for education are ideal for educating community doctors in the skills necessary for smaller parts of Canada.

Finally he said everyone should ask themselves a simple question about their hospital.

“Are you getting what you deserve?”

The Mission Community Health Partnership will be continuing to raise awareness and enlist the help of more members of the public.

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