Cumberland mayor wants to re-open new hospital proposal for region

Mayor Fred Bates feels a new hospital near Crown Isle in Courtenay is not the best location from a patient’s standpoint.

Mayor Fred Bates feels a new hospital near Crown Isle in Courtenay is not the best location from a patient’s standpoint.

In fact, he says, the locale “would least improve patient care going forward,” he said at Monday’s council meeting.

Bates also objects to replacing the original single regional hospital concept with a community hospital-support model, with new facilities in the Comox Valley and Campbell River.

On behalf of Cumberland council, he has expressed these objections in writing to the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Health Ministry but has yet to receive a response.

Bates says VIHA’s original proposal to build a state-of-the-art regional hospital in close proximity to either the Comox Valley or Campbell River — and a community facility in the other — was forward-thinking.

“Their conclusion was that the status quo of two hospitals serving Campbell River and Comox Valley is not sustainable for many reasons,” Bates states in a report to council, noting insufficient volume in each area would not attract enough specialists.

Bates, who chaired the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board, said the regional hospital in the Dove Creek area north of Cumberland was originally to cost about $350 million.

“It is very disappointing to see that their plan was not followed in the end, and now the recommendation is to spend more than $600 million to build a new full hospital in each area,” he said, noting consultants recommended the best location would be near the Inland Island Highway (Highway 19) or on the Comox Valley Parkway, the main entrance to Courtenay from Highway 19.

“We agree the new hospital should not be on the (Comox) peninsula, across bridges that are congested and in danger of flooding, and should be closer to the inland highway for access reasons.”

Bates hopes local government, VIHA and the ministry can revisit the original proposal before the province commits to a new hospital at the top of Ryan Road in Courtenay.

“Patient care is being totally ignored,” said Coun. Bronco Moncrief, also a former hospital board chair.

Council approved his motion to forward a letter to the NDP health critic along with the other parties.

“We need to do something,” Coun. Leslie Baird said.

Village council will solicit public and professional opinion about the proposed hospital location at its next committee of the whole meeting.

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