The CSRHD board has diverging views on its relationship with Island Health. File photo

The CSRHD board has diverging views on its relationship with Island Health. File photo

Comox Strathcona hospital board considering rural, First Nations grants

Grants could include up to 11 more communities, including Quadra Island

The body overseeing local capital contributions for health care facilities in the Comox Valley and Strathcona regions is looking at expanding its grants to help small communities.

The Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District has considered the idea to increase the amount of grants for local health clinics in rural, remote and First Nations communities, as well as expand the number of communities that receive them. This has been part of recent strategic plan discussions.

“There’s three primary topics covered under strategic planning,” deputy CAO James Warren told the board at its latest meeting on March 24.

RELATED STORY: Comox Strathcona hospital district doubles grants to rural facilities

These includes increasing small community grants to rural, remote and First Nations communities, looking for some central hub in the Comox Valley for health services and establishing a long-term care facility in Campbell River for seniors, which would be designed to alleviate pressure on the acute care beds at the hospital.

The board had agreed earlier this year to double the amount granted for smaller community sites from $5,000 to $10,000 each. The money has gone to a half dozen communities around the north Island: Cortes Health Centre, Gold River Health Centre, Kyuquot Health Centre, Sayward Primary Health Care Clinic, Tahsis Health Centre and Zeballos Health Centre.

The plan now is to add up to 11 sites, including communities such as Quadra Island, Denman Island, Hornby Island and some First Nations communities, including the Wachiay Friendship Centre.

“Those discussions are continuing with Island Health,” Warren said.

Scott McCarten, Island Health’s executive director for capital management and finance projects, also spoke about the business case for the long-term care facility for Campbell River, — an issue that some on the board have opposed because they argue it falls outside the mandate for the hospital district board. He said the plan is for a 150-bed facility near the hospital in Campbell River.

“Our hope is that we can submit that to the ministry,” he said.

Brenda Leigh, one of the Strathcona Regional District directors, reiterated her opposition to the proposal.

“I don’t think this board can afford to go into long-term care,” she said, adding their focus should be on hospitals. “It appears the hospital is over-capacity at all times.”

McCarten responded the facility would take pressure off the system as many people who should be in long-term care are taking up beds in the area’s hospitals. He added the cost per new bed in a long-term facility is about one-eighth the cost of a bed in a hospital.

“It is a much more economical way to increase hospital capacity,” he said.

As far as the health care hub for the Comox Valley, there was some concern about the need and that it might be costly to find a new building to house various health care services, though McCarten explained a major reason for considering a hub was the need to replacing aging infrastructure at sites in the Comox Valley.

“We do need to renovate and replace,” he said.

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