Dix smears everyone in emergency depts.

Dear Editor:

I would like to comment on the front page article of June 20 "Province Pledges to root out racism."

While I no longer work in the Emergency Department, I have 30 years of ED experience in over 20 B.C. hospitals and a similar number in other parts of Canada, many in remote communities with high or predominant First Nation populations.

Across all of these communities, it was essential practice for health providers to estimate alcohol of intoxicated patients while awaiting lab confirmation when available.

Estimating level of intoxication determines which patients need special care such as continuous observation, protecting the airway, hospital admission or ICU care.

Estimating levels over time helps determine if the patient is improving on a timeline one would expect, or if other diagnoses seem increasingly likely.

Like all clinical skills, practice and peer discussion improve accuracy, reduce errors and save lives.

ED staff also estimate bilirubin in jaundiced patients, sugar level in diabetic ketoacidosis, salt levels in sodium/potassium disorders, and just about any lab abnormality that affects patients’ well being.

Intoxicated patients often present after trauma (car accidents, fights or falls) and it is difficult to tell whether slurred speech and confusion is simple intoxication or a soon-fatal brain bleed.

Few experienced physicians feel confident diagnosing simple alcohol intoxication. Most have been gutted when a patient suffered because they were wrong.

Subtle signs from unsuspected causes often point in a completely different direction (such as stroke, seizures, other drug effects). I will never forget a nurse in Tuktoyaktuk who correctly guessed a BAC of "zero" on an intoxicated patient because she recognized the characteristic odour of methanol on the breath (slightly sweeter than regular alcohol).

A drunk patient is one of the most frightening and challenging problems in the ED. Collective impressions (aka “wisdom of the crowd”) helps manage patients safely while awaiting lab results or when none are available (many rural EDs can not measure blood alcohol outside of lab hours).

These patients tend to remain in the department for 12-24 hours, so having staff briefly consider the patient helps alert them to changes when initial staff have gone home or missed deterioration. At no time have I seen this practice applied by race or negatively affect the care a patient is provided.

Since the estimate is done by teams that are already caring for a patient, there is no sharing of personal health information. If there were, this would be cause for the BC College of Physicians to investigate.

I know front-line health care providers were saddened to see our Health Minister jump to judgment of the very people he’s been applauding during this pandemic.

Had he waited for results of his own investigation or asked the opinion of others with more experience before drawing conclusions, he would not have damaged the reputation of B.C’s nurses and doctors.

Dramatic and public accusations of racism may suit the political climate, but professional reputations are at stake. Dix is an experienced politician, but has never treated a patient, as far as I know. Perhaps if he had, he would know enough to consult colleagues before anchoring to biased conclusions.

He has now made it difficult for his government or the people they commission to reach any other.

Mike Figurski, Whitefoot Medical Clinic, Big White

Distancing wasn’t safe at Boucherie grad event

Dear Editor:

We attended the Mount Boucherie Secondary grad walk in Waterfront Park on Friday and and tried very hard to keep a safe distance of 5-6 metres. It worked well at the beginning but near the end people were gathering in large clumps. We chose to leave at this point.

I would like to know why both the RCMP and the bylaw officers chose to ignore this. We saw both of these departments in the area. I think if they would have made their presence known and enforced the restrictions, this would not have happened. Some people need gentle nudges to be reminded of the need for safe distancing restrictions during this pandemic.

Jo Luchka, West Kelowna

City throwing away chance to develop a modern performing arts centre

Dear Editor:

The City of Kelowna has awarded a contract to develop for the former RCMP land at 350 Doyle Ave. (with a 99-year lease) to RISE Commercial Developments, which proposes to build a 13-storey commercial/residential building in the heart of what the city advertises as the Downtown Cultural District.

We find the action of the city to have this property developed in a one-off proposal without proper consideration and vision for the overall downtown cultural area to be misguided, unfortunate, and disappointing.

This action now limits the future flexibility and options for the city to develop a Performing Arts Centre in the Cultural District.

In its 20-year plan, but not in its 10-year funding plan, the city proposes a new Performing Arts Centre on the existing footprint of the Kelowna Community Theatre. This would mean that our city would be without events and performances that are normally held there, for 2-3 years during the re-construction.

Our current Kelowna Community Theatre was built in 1962 with a capacity for 850 when the city’s population was 15,000; in 2020 the population is now around 130,000.

The city clearly requires more than just a new theatre now, we need and deserve a Performing Arts Centre, a centre that could be built in phases, with the first phase finished before the current community theatre is demolished. We need a centre with performance theatres, rehearsal rooms and other activities related to culture and education in an architecturally outstanding new complex that will serve the community and meet the ambitions of this city as a destination for young entrepreneurs, innovative businesses and visitors.

As well, we must enable the professional development of the arts to garner national and international attention for artistry, musicianship and innovative programming right here in Kelowna.

And as an incentive to our city planners, the federal government will have infrastructure money available to stimulate the economy after COVID-19.

Over the last decade, the city has approved numerous highrise condominium buildings to encourage people to live and work downtown. They need to play downtown too, and high-calibre live onstage entertainment is one of their expectations. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that citizens are desperate and hungry for live cultural experiences.

The city needs to allocate a generous space of land now before it is too late to realize this vision for our beautiful city.

Patricia Ainslie for the Citizens’ Committee for a new Performing Arts Centre

Tory leadership pair are populists in search of a problem

Dear Editor:

The French were here 225 years before the British captured Quebec in 1759.

Two founding cultures. We are a bilingual country and our prime minister needs to be able to converse intelligently in both official languages.

Conservative Leadership candidate Erin O’Toole paints his rival Peter MacKay as “yesterday’s man” and portrays himself as the “future,” though abortion and same-sex marriages still remain hot-button issues and reveal a schism between the progressive Red Tories and reform Blue conservatives.

Canada lost its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. Needing 128 votes, Canada received 108 votes. Many conservatives dislike the United Nations.

Though current leader Andrew Scheer said he would’ve pursued a seat, MacKay said nothing and O’Toole thought chasing a seat is a waste of time.

But history teaches us co-operation works.

America First, like Canada First, means America alone and Canada alone. No one country can shape the world alone, not even the United States. Populist rhetoric can not change this fact.

MacKay wants closer alignment with America and believes the myth that lower taxes and freer markets fix everything; while O’Toole wants tax reform and objects to bigger government. Two sides of the same Conservative coin — cutting taxes hurt the poor, the loss of needed tax revenue gives Conservatives political cover to shrink government; fostering a transactional austere conservative world of profit before people.

Many conservative attacks prove to be hashtags in search of a problem. We find in many cases government does its job very well; but conservative populism feeds on grievance to survive and needs an endless supply, even imagined.

MacKay and O’Toole will, perhaps unwittingly import grievance-driven ethno-nationalistic American conservatism into Canadian politics. Fortunately for us, the most effective inoculation to this virus is context and facts.

Jon Peter Christoff, West Kelowna