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VIHA apologizes for overcrowding at Campbell River Hospital

Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) spokesman Dan McLennan has apologized for overcrowding at Campbell River Hospital that has forced patients into “hallways” and “alcoves.”

“Campbell River Hospital has been very busy during the past several weeks. We are doing everything we can to address the situation to support patient care. We recognize that busy hospitals are stressful for patients, and we apologize for the inconvenience,” McLennan says.

The VIHA official says when the hospital is over capacity it may be necessary to place a patient in a non-ward area. “We recognize that this is far from an ideal situation for patients and for staff and we apologize. When it is necessary to place a patient in a non-ward area (hallway, alcove) this is a temporary measure and everything is done to make the patient’s stay is as comfortable as possible, and to get the patient into an appropriate bed as quickly as possible.”

The overcrowding problem has prompted North Island NDP MLA Claire Trevena to fire off a letter to VIHA CEO Howard Waldner in which she charges that VIHA has grossly underestimated population growth in the region.

“The new hospital will have 95 beds. Today, there were 92 people in beds in Campbell River Hospital. Simply put, there are not enough beds available for the current population let alone the expected population. We have had many debates about population statistics over the last few years and it still appears that VIHA is grossly underestimating the First Nations’ population in the area served by Campbell River Hospital. It is extremely short sighted to build a hospital which will not accommodate the population over its 50 year lifetime.”

Last week the Mirror reported that Campbell River Hospital was filled to overflowing and that concern was being expressed that the new hospital is not going to solve the acute crowding problem. One physician reported that “the number of people admitted now is roughly the number of beds VIHA is planning in the new hospital that we hope will last us for many years. Good planning?”

The new 95-bed Campbell River Hospital will replace the existing acute care facility which was built in 1956. Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and be completed in 2017.

McLennan says: “There is no one factor contributing to the current situation. It is the result of several different things, including high volumes of very sick patients and alternative level care patients in the hospital.

“As you know, VIHA has made a commitment for an additional 40 care spaces to be located in community settings prior to the opening of the new 95-bed hospital to support long-term, non-acute (non-hospital) care.”

The VIHA spokesman says “anybody who is experiencing serious medical symptoms (should) still come to the hospital emergency department for assessment and care.” He added that less urgent cases are encouraged to visit their GPs or go to a local medical clinic.

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