FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Officials with the Peace River Regional District and the provincial government say that progress is being made on getting a nursing school established in Fort St. John.
The news comes on the tail of last Wednesday’s announcement that the provincial government had approved the concept plan for major upgrades to the Dawson Creek Hospital. During that announcement, Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged the hospital’s staff who “a great place, regardless of what the facilities are like.”
“We owe it to them to ensure that they practice the passion of their lives – caring for people – in the best possible facilities,” said Dix.
While the newly-renovated hospital might provide a less stressful facility for healthcare workers, B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer said earlier this year that new facilities alone won’t solve issues with recruitment and retention of healthcare workers in Northeast B.C.
In February, Bellringer released a report which said that Northern Health was not doing enough to recruit and retain registered nurses, especially in the northeast part of the province. As part of her recommendations, Bellringer said that establishing a nursing school in Northeast B.C. would help to better recruit and retain nurses in this part of the province.
Weeks before Bellringer released the report, Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman said that talks on getting a nursing school established in Fort St. John were progressing, saying she expected to hear back from the provincial government in the Spring.
Peace River Regional District Chair Brad Sperling, who was also at last week’s announcement, said that the latest news from the provincial government came at the North Central Local Government Association annual general meeting in Fort Nelson in May.
“The program was virtually together and ready to go,” said Sperling. “That was in the beginning of May and they were hoping to have that down there in June. They did ask me if I would be prepared to head down there on a moment’s notice and the Board did approve that. Right now we’re just waiting to hear, but hopefully it’s on its way to the Minister.”