In November of 2005, when it became apparent to Lois and Ed Jarvis that Island Health was planning to build one new regional hospital instead of upgrading both hospitals, they went to work and formed Citizens for Quality Health Care.
After education campaigns, collecting signatures, presenting research that showed two fully functioning acute care hospitals would be best for the region, and writing numerous letters to all levels of government the Citizens for Quality Health Care won the first step of their battle.
On Feb. 7, 2008 the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board rescinded their original motion to support a single regional hospital in favour of two fully functioning acute care hospitals.
Christy Clark, premier at the time, announced the two campus hospital project in 2012.
But the Jarvis’ weren’t done yet. Soon after the announcement of the new hospitals they began fighting for free parking at both locations.
After letters and discussions with local government both Campbell River and Courtenay passed bylaws banning paid parking in public spaces. Island Health followed those bylaws with an announcement in September that both campuses would have free parking.
Last month, nine years after the board rejected the single hospital proposal, the North Island Hospital Campbell River campus and the North Island Hospital Comox Valley campus ceremonially opened and Lois and Ed Jarvis were recognized by Premier John Horgan for their contribution to the projects.
“Your efforts and the efforts of others from Citizens for Quality Health Care were key to ensuring that Campbell River continues to have access to acute care,” the letter reads. “Your leadership was instrumental in bringing people together to rally for the health care services your community deserves.”
But the Jarvis’ insist that recognition be given where recognition is due.
“We felt pretty humbled by being singled out there because we have never looked for any recognition,” Lois said. “We do it because it’s useful and we do something good it makes us feel good. But there were a heck of a lot of other people involved…It takes a community, it takes a lot of people together, but you can actually get somebody to listen to you if you get enough people behind you. Always be polite, but have your facts right and present your case.”
The Jarvis’ had help from Rich Hagensen, Joanne Banks, Drs. Aref Tabarsi and Krysl and Minnaar Mahoney, as well as MLA Claire Trevena and her constituency assistant Lynne Stone in fighting to have two hospitals in the North Island.
“We’ve had a lot of good camaraderie with a lot of the people we work with, it’s just been a good experience,” Lois said.
With help from Geoff Goodship, Citizen’s for Quality Health Care reaches a large group of people with a regular news letter on health care issues in the province.
If that doesn’t all sound like enough of an accomplishment, the Jarvis’ were also recognized by the province for their volunteer and fundraising work through the First Open Heart Society in Campbell River.
“We’ve always been involved in the community in different things,” Lois said. “It gives us some satisfaction.”