Don’t need water features, we need more acute care beds

Thank you, hospital board, for voting against the water features.

On Feb. 7, 2019, as a member of the public, I gave a 10 minute presentation in opposition to the $212,000 water feature proposal as a commemorative item for the new hospitals in Comox and Campbell River.

My reason against it was that it was far too much taxpayer money for a decorative item that does not advance the objectives stated on the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District’s website, “to enhance quality of care for patients, especially elderly and Aboriginal populations.”

My message was clear, the hospitals do not need extravagant water features, what they do need is more acute care beds. I presented data I had analysed from 460 days of capacity rates from the Campbell River hospital and 425 days of the Comox hospital.

I found that the hospitals are running, on average, at 114 per cent and 113 per cent capacity, meaning, on any given day, 32 people are treated in hallways, common rooms, and storage rooms in the brand new hospitals.

My elderly mother was one of them, she suffered immeasurably in hallways and a common room with no call bell and little privacy.

I also presented a chart that clearly illustrated, via monthly averages, that the purported “flu season” is 330 days of the year with consitently high rates, month after month.

I am pleased to report that the board was very compassionate, kind and understanding and although it was very difficult, emotionally, for me to present my concerns, because hospital overcrowding effects me on a personal level, it was well worth the effort and they voted against the water features and discussed other more prudent options.

Because of my positive experience presenting to the hospital board, I would like to encourage the public to engage with their regional directors, mayors and councillors for any concerns having to do with hospital overcrowding.

After all, hundreds of us have had the demoralizing and dehumanizing experience of being treated in hallways, common rooms and nooks, in our beautiful new hospitals.

Liza Schmalcel

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