The city’s new hospital will open with its full complement of beds, according to the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA).
“I absolutely stake my reputation…that we’re going to open all 95 beds on day one,” said Heather Gibson, a VIHA director who also serves on the North Island hospitals’ project team.
Confusion about the number of beds began last week following a presentation by VIHA’s interim project director, Grant Hollett, to city council.
In the project description, Hollett stated the 95 beds were on target for 2025-’26. That was news to North Island MLA Claire Trevena who expects all beds to be available when the $266-million hospital is due to open in 2017.
“I was shocked…this never came up in discussions with VIHA,” she said Monday.
By Tuesday though, VIHA officials were doing some further explaining about the number of beds.
According to Gibson, a percentage of those 95 beds will be occupied by patients requiring an alternative level of care. They could be people waiting to get into a residential care facility or who require home care in place before the return to their residences.
Gibson said the plan is to reduce the number of alternative care beds by 75 per cent and this will be done over a 10-year period once the hospital opens.
(Information on the number of altenative care beds currently occupied at Campbell River Hospital was not available at press time.)
The number of beds is based on population projections. It’s difficult, said Gibson, to accurately determine the right number and she said the 95 beds are approximately 10 per cent more than what the Campbell River region requires.
She also added that the Comox Valley’s new 153-bed hospital will open with 14 fewer beds, but those will be phased in as the population increases.
However, it’s this type of confusion that will make the public leery of VIHA’s promises, warned Trevena. The NDP member, who lobbied hard for a new hospital in Campbell River, said VIHA should release the hospitals’ business plan to ease fears.
“People’s fears are fueled by not knowing what is going on,” she said. “The whole process has been cloaked in secrecy and this is is not the way that a public body should operate.”
She added the plan should be released, “In the interest of transparency and as an indication of good faith.”
But that’s not going to happen, said VIHA’s Val Wilson. The business plan was meant for the provincial cabinet and will remain secret.
Most aspects and details about the new hospitals, she added, are available on VIHA’s website (www.viha.ca).