Hospital status much subject of discussion

As most residents know, there is one regional hospital board for the North Island.

In the last few days there have been several reports in the media about the status of the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s (VIHA) plans for the new Campbell River hospital.

The media reports appear to be largely based on a letter released by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce last week that criticizes VIHA for its apparent lack of transparency in the planning of the Campbell River acute care facility. While I am sure that VIHA will respond directly to the Chamber and provide it with further information, I would like to take this opportunity to clear up at least some of the inaccuracies that have been reported about the North Island hospitals project (NIHP).

As most residents know, there is one regional hospital board for the North Island. The Comox Stathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD), of which I am the chair, has the responsibility for the oversight of the planning and development of two hospitals, one in the Comox Valley and one in Campbell River. We have a web site on the status of the project that has been regularly updated since the original concept brief was tabled and approved in early 2010. The site was updated as recently as August 2011 (http://www.csrhd.ca/information.html). Information on the NIHP is also available on the VIHA website, http://www.viha.ca/about_viha/building_for_health/nihp.htm I would encourage the public to go to these sites for additional information and details on the background and status of the North Island hospitals project.

However, I will take this opportunity to briefly outline the current status of the project and hopefully clarify some of the misinformation that is circulating:

n The project is on track and is moving forward in accordance with the original timelines that were agreed to by the CSRHD. The preparation of the business case is nearing finalization and will shortly be moving to the next step in the province’s approval process, which is to the Treasury Board.

n I can advise that through our conversations with various MLAs and Ministers that there is strong support at the provincial level for the NIHP.

n The project is being developed in a phased manner, with the business case coming first. Once the business case is approved the project will proceed to the procurement stage and then construction.

n In spite of what is being reported in some quarters, I can confirm that there will be no loss of hospital service provided to patients. In fact, this was a condition that was laid out in the concept brief that was endorsed by the CSRHD board.

n Staff at both facilities have been consulted during the development of the functional plans for the new hospitals as well on the indicative (preliminary) designs for both facilities.

In closing, I want to assure the public that CSRHD board is on top of this project and has been receiving regular briefings on its progress by VIHA staff as well as from our designated representative who is a member of the hospitals project board team. The hospitals project board includes membership from VIHA, the Ministry of Health, Partnerships BC and the CSRHD. They are tasked with overseeing the development of the business plan. Given the nature of the project, there are sometimes confidential aspects that arise through the project planning process (e.g. proprietary business information) that cannot be shared with the public until decisions are finalized and the project approved. Through the CSRHD’s participation at the project board table and regular debriefs to the board, the interests of our region are being closely monitored to ensure our community interests are being fully represented.

Charlie Cornfield

Chair, Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District