Doctors Peter Olesen (left) and Deke Botsford call on the Ministry of Health to increase the number of beds planned for Campbell River’s new 95-bed hospital. They were joined at last Thursday’s news conference by Dr. Bob Gordon and North Island MLA Claire Trevena.

MLA, doctors: Include more hospital beds now

Campbell River doctors say 10-15 more beds in the new hospital would make a significant difference

Adding more beds to the new Campbell River Hospital will provide better health care and would be more cost effective, according to the local MLA and three doctors who spoke out last Thursday.

“Let’s get this right and not build a hospital where, two years later down the road, we wish we had done it right,” said North Island MLA Claire Trevena.

The NDP MLA was joined by a trio of veteran local doctors: Dr. Bob Gordon, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Deke Botsford, and former chief of staff Dr. Peter Olesen.

They gathered in Botsford’s Willow Point office to publicly express their concern that the new $266-million, 95-bed hospital will not provide adequate space to meet current or future patients’ needs. Construction on the new hospital is slated to begin next year.

Just two weeks ago, Campbell River Hospital had 103 patients and over-crowding is a constant issue.

“We compromise care every day by not admitting patients we should be admitting,” said Dr. Oleson.

He added that health professionals due their best to keep people out of hospital and to provide quality home care, but some patients, “do better in hospital from an acute care perspective.”

Another issue doctors see is Campbell River’s aging population.

“We’re quickly turning from a resource community into a retirement community,” said Dr. Botsford, who’s doing far more hip replacement surgeries that he’s ever done before.

According to Dr. Gordon, the official health care term for too many patients is “over-census,” which he calls a euphemism for “bed shortage.” This leads, he said, to surgery cancellations which aren’t quickly rescheduled because everything is over-booked. Just as worse, said Dr. Botsford, is when surgeries are cancelled because there aren’t enough beds available.

The other aspect of over-crowding is where to put the extra patients? They need somewhere safe, where they can be monitored and have access to other amenities, such as bathrooms.

“It’s not like we’re not going to care for sick people, but they need to be safe,” said Dr. Oleson. “A lot of credit goes to the staff and nurses for going above and beyond their duty.”

The doctors said 10-15 more beds in the new hospital would make a significant difference and the time to include these new beds in the plans  is now, before construction begins. Too build or renovate later, or to find other safe places to house patients, is far more costly, they said.

And the number of beds for the new hospital, 95, was devised by the Ministry of Health, not the Island Health authority.

“It’s a Ministry of Health decision,” Dr. Botsford said.

The doctors and Trevena all said the new hospital is much-needed. However, they believe the ministry should revisit the demographics and revise the bed number so over-crowding isn’t an issue for the next 50 years.

“Right now we have a bed meeting every morning…and most of the time (staff) is tearing out their hair, wondering where they (patients) will all go,” said Dr. Botsford. “There’s no give in the system – and it’s only going to get worse.”

paulr@campbellrivermirror.com

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