When Tumbler Ridge’s population dropped a few years ago, at a time when government health funding was dropping steadily, significant medical services were lost to the community. This put a lot of pressure on residents, as well as the remaining health care providers.

Since then, with the community’s recovery, some of these services have returned, such as optometrists Drs Kadziolka, Smart and Spatarro, and physiotherapist David Lowe.

Newcomers have included orthotist Dwight Driver, who has been making regular visits over the past two years, and at the beginning of 2004 staffing levels in the Counselling department rose with the welcome arrival of Janette Dixon. Respiratory Therapist Irene Stoyles has made a huge difference to the care of Tumbler Ridge residents with asthma and other ailments such as obstructive sleep apnoea.

This positive trend has accelerated in the last month. First audiologist Fran Thornton provided her first clinic here – in addition to doing sophisticated hearing testing she is able to help with hearing aid evaluation and provision. Last week Dr Vargas provided the first ever Ear Nose and Throat clinic in the history of the community – this specialty service is particularly welcome given the usual long waitlists.

The latest example of these expanding health care options for TR residents is Judy April, dietician and diabetes educator from Chetwynd. Judy will provide clinics in Tumbler Ridge every two weeks. Apparently a very long time ago similar services were offered here – their return is long overdue and will be much appreciated.

Perhaps dentistry and social services can be enticed to follow – these remain the most urgent gaps to fill in what is available here.

This current trend is not only good for health, it is good for Tumbler Ridge businesses – the fewer reasons there are for having to leave Tumbler Ridge, the more residents are likely to shop locally.