I wish to challenge several statements made in a recent letter in the Campbell River Mirror by B. Funk from Cumberland.
That writer promotes a return to the one regional hospital plan to replace existing Campbell River and Comox hospitals (proposed by VIHA in 2006) that was soundly rejected by most North Islanders. As most readers know, that rejection is evidenced by 19,000 people who signed petitions in 2007 supporting public health care and hospitals in Campbell River and in the Comox Valley. In 2008, the locally elected Comox Strathcona Regional District Hospital Board voted against their former support for one regional hospital and the next year, in response, VIHA introduced a proposal for building new hospitals in both communities which maintained services in our current hospitals and added some regional beds and services.
For a start, it is untrue as B. Funk states that “each area (Campbell River and the Comox Valley) forming action groups” when in fact, there was one action group Citizens for Quality Health Care. CFQHC consisted of members from both communities and all actions, petitioning and communication were done collaboratively.
B. Funk then states “And the result was VIHA caved to these special interest group’s demands.” In fact, VIHA’s 2009 two new hospital plan was announced in response to the wishes of 19,000 North Islanders who signed the CFQHC petition and to reflect the Comox Strathcona Regional District Hospital Board’s desire for a hospital in each community. If “special interest group” can be defined as the vast majority of people and politicians from the North Island, then we stand guilty as charged.
Next, B. Funk states that the one regional hospital model originally proposed by VIHA is supported by local medical personnel.
I don’t know which medical personnel the writer is speaking of but the majority of Campbell River and Comox Valley doctors and specialists have been vocal about supporting the two hospital plan, preserving and expanding on current services offered.
B. Funk says that building two hospitals will result in “reduced services and at a greater cost.” There are certainly arguments to be made whether services are adequate to meet current or future needs and whether there are a sufficient number of beds in the VIHA plans for each new hospital.
However, the truth is that the services offered in the two new hospitals are not “reduced” but are exactly the same as what was offered in VIHA’s one regional hospital proposal. The most pertinent fact related to cost is that VIHA and the Health Ministry are touting a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model to funding new hospitals. If examples of P3 hospitals built and operated in England and Abbotsford, B.C. are examined, they exist to make the health corporations running them a profit from taxpayers’ dollars, are over budget and less accountable than publicly funded and run hospitals. If B. Funk is concerned about the cost of the two new hospitals, he or she should join with others from the North Island in campaigning against the P3 model of funding the two hospitals should VIHA and the Provincial Government decide to go down that road.
Finally, B. Funk asks “where do we go from here?…bickering amongst a loud but vocal minority…I hope not.”
Well, the reality is that there exists a loud vocal majority of citizens from two communities not arguing against each other but united in expecting that two publicly funded hospitals, one in each community, is the model that will offer the best quality health care now and for future generations.