DAWSON CREEK -- Staffing shortages and patient complaints have been ongoing concerns with the Fort St. John Hospital for many years.

Mayor Lori Ackerman said she joined in on a two hour call with nurses back in March to listen to some of their concerns and to hear about what was going wrong.

From there, they joined in on a conference call with Health Minister Adrian Dix and staff, Northern Health staff, MLA Dan Davies, and District of Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser to ask for some help with the system and express the issues within the hospital. 

"We asked for just to acknowledge the situation, that there are struggles and we needed to develop an emergency action plan and we needed to start resolving some of those issues."

Now with promises of action and a possible audit from B.C.'s Health Minister in the near future, Ackerman says she feels a great sense of relief.

"It's absolutely vital that this takes place so I'm very pleased that we've been heard," said Ackerman. 

Peace River North MLA Dan Davies added he agrees with having the audit. He said one of the best outcomes would be for all of the health authorities to be in-sync with what works and what does not. 

Considering Northern Health covers almost 65 per cent of land mass in B.C., Davies mentioned making the comparison with other regions would be somewhat like "apples to oranges". 

"We need to be looking at other jurisdictions and find out how we can deliver healthcare better to the residents of the Peace Country," said Davies. 

One of the biggest concerns the MLA hears about, almost daily, is reoccuring concern around the shortage of staffing.

"When you have someone in medical and you see someone after a 16 hour shift, well you wonder where they are. I mean, I know what I'm like after I work 16 hours. I'm pretty tired and foggy. So that is a concern," said Davies. 

CJDC reached out to the BC Nurses Union (BCNU) to ask about the safety of their members and they were unable to make someone available.

When asked about the audit, Northern Health issued a statement saying, "We are fortunate to have very dedicated health-care providers in the northeast. We are working to stabilize staffing levels, improve services, and support our healthcare professionals in providing excellent care. We will continue to work with the ministry on our commitment to improve the quality of care in the north."

Health Minister Adrian Dix said after talking with Ackerman, Davies, Northern Health and others about the concerns of healthcare in the north, there are plans in place for improvements.

"We need to take action now to retain, and of course recruit. in the present climate, we have to take long term steps and both of which we're doing," said Dix. 

Dix said he should be releasing information on what his immediate plans for action are for Fort St. John healthcare and residents in the near future.