Interior Health is adamant there are no plans at this point in time to move the Armstrong Lions Vision Centre out of the Pleasant Valley Health Centre in Armstrong to Vernon Jubilee Hospital (VJH).
A meeting between the Interior Health Authority (IHA) and Lions Club representatives was held behind closed doors in Armstrong in late August.
“Interior Health will continue to do everything we can to support the Pleasant Valley Lions Visions Care facility in Armstrong,” said Richard Harding, IHA health services administrator for North Okanagan acute hospitals.
“At this time, there are absolutely no plans to relocate the services.”
Lions Club members in Armstrong and Enderby became aware of rumours of a move to VJH in the spring. Two letters were sent to Interior Health on Enderby Lions Club stationery, one stating the Lions had sought the assistance of a lawyer to prevent such a move and one saying they had recently refused a request for funds from a local Interior Health building and after discussion, the clubs decided to withhold any funds from IHA until there is a resolution to the potential move.
Harding, who said the rumour about the centre move “did not come from Interior Health,” called the closed-door meeting “productive.”
“We discussed questions and concerns brought forward from the community,” he said. “We assured them we’re working together with local physicians and the health care team to support patient care remaining in Armstrong.”
In 2017, the Armstrong Lions Club committed to raising more than $100,000 to fund a new argon laser for the Lions Vision Centre and turned to their Lions colleagues, the community and the public to help with the goal.
A cheque for $108,400 was presented to the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation in December 2017.
“We recognize the hard work and greatly appreciate the generous contributions that have been made by the Lions Club and the wider community in supporting health,” said Harding who said, in a letter written in April, that one of the concerns for IHA was a lack of anaesthetists available.
“That’s a national and definitely a provincial issue,” he reiterated Tuesday morning. “We’ve been working hard with physicians in the Pleasant Valley Health Centre to ensure we can sustain services out there.”
A schedule for surgeons and anaesthetists availability, which IHA receives a couple of months in advance, is good through to the end of the year.
“Right now, we can only schedule out to December and the schedule looks good,” Harding said.
The Lions Club had started a petition opposing the rumoured move and club members collected 3,828 signatures. Elaine Sharp from the Enderby Lions Club hoped to present the petition to IHA at the meeting, but it was only discussed.
“I was hoping for a reporter to be able to come out and cover us presenting the petition, the result of our hard work,” said Sharp, who, like Harding, called the meeting a good one.
“We became aware of a rumoured move and we want to let Interior Health know we don’t want the centre to move. We still don’t.”