A tale of two hospices

Comox Valley gets $250,000 and four new end-of-life beds, while Campbell River awaits a response to promise

In the Comox Valley the province happily hands over $250,000 for four new end-of-life beds at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Meanwhile, in Campbell River, the local hospice society awaits a reply from the premier to follow-up on a promise made last year.

“Comox Valley Hospice gets their beds, there’s talk of beds for Parksville and Campbell River seems to get ignored by Victoria,” said Valery Puetz, chair of the Campbell River Hospice Society.

On May 22, the society sent a letter to Premier Christy Clark enquiring about a proposal that would include three new end-of-life beds for Campbell River.

Last November, Island Health announced it would issue a request for proposals in early 2014, seeking an owner-operator to provide 40 care beds in the city. The home was supposed to include 31-33 beds for residents who require complex care, 4-6 long-stay rehab beds and the three end-of-life beds.

On May 5, Island Health issued the request for a new 40-bed care home to be built by 2017, but there’s no mention of three end-of-life (EOL)  beds, noted Puetz, just 20 complex care beds and another 20 for people with dementia.

“What is of concern…is the apparent lost of the three EOL beds which were promised and which are much needed,” wrote Puetz. “Our society would also like to know where the 4-6 long-stay rehabilitation beds are?”

Ideally, local hospice directors would rather have their own home to care for dying patients, but Puetz said Island Health wants end-of-life beds in facilities under contract by the provincial board.

Hospice directors were told the three end-of-life beds would first go into Yucalta Lodge and then moved to a new facility before 2017.

Evergreen Seniors Home is currently expanding and Puetz said the owners are interested in including hospice palliative suites.

However, the request for proposals doesn’t include the end-of-life beds, therefore no pubic funding.

If privately-run care homes, under contract to Island Health, do want to include palliative suites, the cost is picked up by the dying and their families, and Puetz said that isn’t fair.

“This creates a system in which those who can afford the cost of a private EOL bed will have access to it, whereas those who are unable to do so will be denied access,” she wrote on behalf the society.

The letter asks the premier to respond by June 18, and so far there has not been a reply.

On May 30, Comox Valley and Liberal MLA Don McRae, joined with that community’s hospice volunteers to announce the $250,000 provincial grant for four end-of-life beds at St. Joesph’s Hospital in Comox. McRae said the province wants to double the number of these beds throughout B.C. by 2020.

“There’s just so many individuals that came together with Island Health as well to make sure that we become the beneficiaries of these four hospice beds,” McRae said at the funding announcement.

– with files from the Comox Valley Record