The proposed long term care facility for Campbell River will alleviate the shortage of beds the Campbell River hospital has suffered since it opened, according to city councillors.
“This will relieve significant pressure on acute care beds at Campbell River Hospital and provide a much better environment for our seniors,” Campbell River mayor Andy Adams said at the May 9 regular city council meeting.
Earlier this month it was announced that the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD) has approved cost sharing with Island Health for a proposed long-term care facility in Campbell River.
Creating additional local long-term care capacity can relieve pressure on hospitals by reducing waitlist times for eligible patients who may otherwise need to remain in a hospital bed, the CSRHD announcement said. Further, reducing waitlist times for people waiting in community to access long-term care can create better availability for community-based services, enabling more people to receive necessary care in their homes and lessening the need for higher levels of care such as hospitals or long-term care.
“It’s a good thing for our community, long overdue,” Coun. Charlie Cornfield, who serves as CRHD board chair, said.
Cornfield said everyone knows that the Campbell River Hospital has been overcapacity for a long time.
“Everyone knows and I’m tired of answering the question about our hospital being too small,” Cornfield said. “Our hospital’s not too small. It was built as an acute care facility and trouble is, it’s over-census by people that need an extended care bed.
“And so, this should alleviate that overcapacity issue and get our acute care hospital function back to what was intended. And in keeping with the number of staff we have there as well.
“So, I think it’s a real win for the community.”
Cornfield said the CSRHD doesn’t normally fund these types of facilities and it says a lot that both the Comox Valley Regional District and the Strathcona Regional District came together to support it.
Cornfield said it is a “fairly expensive” project at “$150 million or so” but it will not result in a tax increase, the current hospital district tax that has stayed consistent over the last 15 or 20 years will remain the same.
What has to happen now is receipt of provincial Treasury Board approval.
“But we’re rated number one,” Cornfield said. “We have the greatest demand for extended care facilities for anywhere else on the Island in Island Health.”
Coun. Claire Moglove wanted to make sure that “everyone understands how significant this is.”
Back in 2009 when the two hospital project (new hospitals for both the Comox Valley and Campbell River) was approved, there was concern about long term care capacity in the hospital at that time. So the city and and the Strathcona Regional District support for the two hospital project included the requirement of 40 alternate level of care beds that would have to be opened prior to the opening of the new hospital. The aim was for 50 beds but a commitment for the minimum 40 was obtained, Moglove said.
“This (new proposal) is 150 beds,” she said. “It’s so significant. It’s three times what we were able to achieve back in 2009.”
But it’s not a done deal, Cornfield pointed out. Now’s the time to send letters of support for what’s been proposed. Send them to your MLA and to the provincial government, he said.
“I think now’s the time to step up to the plate and make your voices heard,” Cornfield said.