East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook. Google maps photo

Activation of emergency operations centres to help coordinate IH support, resources

Last week, the province announced the activation of emergency operations centres in health authorities in response pressures on hospital systems due to the respiratory illness season.

So what does that actually mean?

“We haven’t changed anything, in terms of services at this point, but it has been busy across all Interior Health hospitals coming out of Christmas,” said Karl Hardt, Interim Director, Communications, with Interior Health.

The six major hospitals in Interior Health are feeding into an Interior Health-wide emergency operations centre, through a behind the scenes structure with key personnel meeting virtually every day to support hospital sites and share information, according to Hardt.

“A lot of it is work that happens regularly in any case, but the emergency operations centre really formalizes things and the fact that there’s a provincial one lets us feed into, and get information from other health authorities and the ministry [of health],” Hardt said.

On Jan. 9, the province announced the activation of emergency operations centres for a six-week period, citing high demand for hospital care. The emergency operations centres are activated under the Emergency Management BC legislative framework, which coordinates resources during emergency situations such as wildfires or the Fraser Valley floods.

“They will help ensure dedicated leadership teams are reviewing hospital bed availability and identifying solutions to ease emergency department congestion,” according to a B.C. government new release. “These actions increase patient flow so that the most vulnerable patients, including those who need critical care, get the care they need.”

Hardt stressed that anyone needing emergency care should attend their local hospital emergency department.

“That has not changed within the EOC [Emergency Operations Centre],” Hardt added.