Health care concerns
Krutko calls for health inquiry

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Feb 12/99) - Area health-care workers are doing an excellent job, stresses Inuvik Regional Health and Social Services board chair Nellie Cournoyea in the wake of area MLA David Krutko's calling for a public inquiry into the quality of health care.

Krutko, who represents the Mackenzie Delta riding (which includes Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic), says he was simply forwarding concerns from his constituents.

"I have received numerous letters and petitions from my constituents telling me stories about them or a relative being misdiagnosed and then finding out too late that it is much more serious, such as cancer in the late stage," Krutko says.

"They are quickly losing confidence in the board to adequately take care of them."

Krutko tabled a 40-signature petition in the legislative assembly Nov. 9. He now says he has two more he is set to table.

One of Krutko's specific concerns is there are only two or three days a month that a doctor visits Aklavik, meaning when someone has to see the doctor, they sometimes must wait several weeks.

He also suggested more money be available for medevacs and access to hospitals, especially since he believes the health board is operating at a surplus.

Cournoyea says as far as she knows there is no surplus.

"I think sometimes we overspend. We try really hard to stay within our budget and sometimes that's very difficult," she says.

On the doctor visits, Cournoyea says doctors do not leave area communities without seeing all patients who need to be seen.

"The doctors and the nurses and the social service workers are overtaxed in trying to deal with the issues before them and they are doing an excellent job," Cournoyea says.

After Krutko's call for an inquiry Feb. 4, Cournoyea initially responded with a press release the next day that focused on Krutko's strategy for change.

"We are disappointed that Mr. Krutko has chosen to bypass the board in his efforts to 'improve' the services provided by the IRHSSB," the release reads.

"Mr. Krutko has not taken the time to either obtain an objective understanding of the concerns expressed by his constituents or gain any insight into the very real difficulties faced not only by the IRHSSB, but also by every other health-care delivery agency across Canada. Not once have we seen Mr. Krutko making any tangible effort to address the many and varied issues that have strained Canada's health-care services in recent years."

Days later, in an interview with the xxxDrum, Cournoyea sounded more accommodating.

"I'm trying to get in touch with Krutko so I can talk to him," she said Feb. 8.

"I've got to figure out what he's really after or what does he want and I want to work with him. It seems like some things are said and I respond and, maybe that's not what he's thinking."

The problem with criticizing area health-care quality, she says, is that hard-working professionals aware of opportunities elsewhere will feel under attack and leave the Inuvik region.

"Then you'll have nobody."