All the hospital information is available, VIHA asserts

Chamber frustrated with a lack of transparency and commitment

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) says details surrounding a new Campbell River hospital are publicly available but the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t buy it.

Recently the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to VIHA demanding better communications and clarity regarding planning for the new hospital.

“A lack of transparency and commitment and ineffective communications on behalf of VIHA has led to misunderstandings and has undermined trust,” said Colleen Evans, Chamber Executive Director.

Valerie Wilson, spokesperson for VIHA, said the health authority received the Chamber’s letter about a week ago.

“We will be responding to the Chamber’s letter in due course,” said Wilson, who added VIHA “won’t be commenting in the media before we respond directly to the Chamber.”

The Chamber is upset that details surrounding the square footage, acute care service levels and amenities have not been addressed.

“The result is confusion and grave concern throughout the community,” Evans said. “Our community is in limbo, unable to move forward because there is such uncertainty swirling around the project. Our communities should be celebrating the benefits of two new hospitals. Instead we have been subjected to a divisive, confrontational and reactive culture of ‘have’ and ‘have not’ barriers to community development and well-being.”

Wilson said the information the Chamber is looking for is available.

“There is extensive information about this project available on our website,” Wilson said. “The concept paper from January 2010 (which is on our website) contains information about the North Island Hospitals Project, including the size of both the new Campbell River hospital and the new Comox Valley hospital and the slate of services that will be available at each site.

According to the concept paper, the Campbell River hospital will be built on land available at the current hospital location but it does not specify the exact size of the property or the building.

VIHA does say the new hospital will have 90-95 beds, which is 30-35 more beds than the current hospital has. The business case also says “all currently provided services will continue at the new hospital” and additional services will include a North Island Regional Centre for Mental Health and Addictions with beds and ambulatory services. The centre will focus particularly on providing culturally sensitive and appropriate services to Aboriginals.

The Chamber is also looking for a confirmed date from VIHA for a public presentation of the submitted business plan for the new hospital.

Wilson would not give a specific date but said the business case is on time.

“VIHA is on track as per our original schedule to submit the business case to the government this fall,” she said. “Business cases for major capital projects are very detailed and will include indicative designs for both facilities. Such detail helps ensure accurate cost estimation of the project.”

Evans said the Chamber will request a copy of the submitted business plan for review and comment. The cost to build new hospitals in Campbell River and the Comox Valley is estimated at $550 million.

For more information and to view the concept paper visit www.viha.ca/about_viha/building_for_health/nihp.htm