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Letters June 9: Working to improve health care; big problems in search of remedies; value of caterpillars

The emergency room at Victoria General Hospital. TIME COLONIST

Island Health working to improve health care

Re: “A new ER reality — a drop in standards of care,” commentary, June 3.

As noted in the commentary, the health system is especially busy and we’re seeing more patients requiring emergency care and more people needing hospital admission.

Emergency department physicians and staff are supporting these higher volumes while we work with hospitalists (physicians who provide care to most hospital-admitted patients) on workload, recruitment and retention concerns.

Significant additional work is underway to address some of these current challenges related to high patient volumes.

We are taking action to reduce hospital pressure in Nanaimo by increasing staffing to expedite patient discharges to community settings.

We are also working with hospitals and teams in other communities to transfer patients back home as soon as safely possible. We also increased emergency department physician staffing in Nanaimo to support increased patient volumes.

As a physician who provides emergency care, I see the impact higher patient volumes have on physicians and their colleagues in the emergency department, and in other hospital departments which are also providing increased support.

I also acknowledge the Nanaimo hospitalists who are working with us to improve patient care. I greatly appreciate everyone’s continued commitment to providing the best possible care to patients during this challenging time.

Island Health remains committed to working with our care teams, and our provincial colleagues, in Nanaimo and across all of our communities on short- and longer-term initiatives to increase the number of care-providers, invest in expanding our hospital infrastructure, and provide more community-based services to reduce the pressure on our hospitals.

Dr. Ben Williams, MD, CCFP


Medicine, Quality, Research and Chief Medical Officer

Island Health

Patients deserve more medical attention

Re “Dumbing down health care can be dangerous,” letter, June 7.

I agree entirely with Dr. Christopher Lam. Diagnosing and treating dysmenorrhea, dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, headache, hemorrhoids, urinary tract infection, shingles some of the listed problems for pharmacists to sort out, are among the diagnoses most fraught with worrisome differential possibilities.

Will the pharmacists take a full history knowing what questions to ask? Will they do an examination? Can they order the appropriate lab tests, x-rays etc?

What connection with the family doctor will there be? Who’s going to follow up with the patient?

The therapies listed as appropriate for the pharmacists to prescribe look mostly like symptomatic treatments.

Delaying proper diagnosis? Stalling effective investigations/treatments?

As a retired family doctor, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Patients deserve full-scope medical attention, and pharmacists deserve to perform the necessary health-care role they are properly trained for.

Neil Finnie

Retired family doctor


Big problems call for more remedies

When will the health-care crisis end? How can we stop deaths from toxic drugs? Will housing ever be affordable? Is global warming fixable? Why can’t mothers find baby formula? How can law and order be restored in Haiti?

Why can’t we keep violent criminals in prison? Will anyone ever put a stop to Putin’s insane war? What about school shootings?

We face many big problems with few remedies. Maybe it’s time schools and universities offered courses in problem solving.

Cheera J. Crow

Brentwood Bay

Caterpillars can help those hungry birds

Re: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar is in your backyard,” column, June 4.

Although caterpillars aren’t actually important food for whales (as David Sovka amusingly suggests), they are hugely important for birds.

The best food for baby songbirds is caterpillars. They are critical for turning plants into birds. I wish Sovka had mentioned this in his piece about tent caterpillars.

Helpfully, other sources have been reassuring us that tent caterpillars are natural and we needn’t worry about them so much.

I read recently in this newspaper the comforting advice that if the tree is big enough that the tent caterpillars are out of reach, you don’t need to do anything. And if the tree is young and small, then maybe remove them by hand or with an acceptable spray.

I did exactly this on my two-year-old apple tree that I’m training as an espalier on a fence. Tent caterpillars appeared on a waist-high branch; how did they get so big before I noticed them, twitching in the sun the way they do?

I debated leaving them to encourage their natural predators to come eat them. But the tree is small so I sprayed them with a solution of Seventh Generation “dish liquid,” killing them immediately. Then they were really ugly, so I hosed them off. Easy.

The planned aerial spraying with Foray 48B (Btk), which kills all butterfly and moth caterpillars, is another matter. The product literature says “minimal environmental impact.”

Spraying the birds might not hurt them, but killing their food surely will. That’s not minimal impact; that’s destruction.

Ann Tiplady


School liaison officers help all students

I was surprised and aghast at the decision of the Greater Victoria School Board to cancel the police school liaison program.

As a retired RCMP officer, and former school trustee for 12 years, I understand the significant value that this program added to the schools and the community.

School liaison officers delivered traffic and personal safety programs, helped coach sports teams, sponsored clubs, acted as chaperones, gave speeches at school assemblies and graduation ceremonies, and provided safety and security when needed.

I was appalled to hear one trustee give one explanation of the cancelling “because some Black or Indigenous students might feel nervous with a police officer at their school.” That comment is blatantly racist.

One of the main school liaison officer roles is to build up trust and confidence in all students regardless of race or ethnicity.

Don Brown

View Royal

It’s not the time to widen region’s trails

Re: “Region eyes levy to widen and light key trails,” June 2.

Is there no end to the tax increases our municipal councillors foist upon us? We have all recently received in the mail another hefty increase in our property taxes — and now the region is eyeing a levy to widen and light key trails.

Stop! Enough is enough. Now is not the time for “nice to have” projects when so many are struggling to pay day-to-day bills.

Christine Benn



• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd.,

Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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