NO, REALLY: We do need a new hospital, we just don’t need two

The leak was one of the many warnings that we need a new hospital

The leak was one of the many warnings that we need a new hospital.

It was last summer and I was confined to the third-floor room, awaiting surgery, when nature called.

The double room was nice enough and I even had my very own bathroom. But as I flushed, I could see  water leaking from the pipe fittings.

I buzzed for the nurse who quickly arrived – I have learned that all nurses on the third floor run during their entire 12-hour shifts – and I suggested she get maintenance up to the room pronto! But nurses, bless their hearts, have it ingrained in their collective makeup to always try and do their best.

In this case, my nurse fiddled with the fittings for a moment…and then ran for towels as the drip-drip leak turned into a small gurgling stream.

As the many towels became saturated and the water advanced towards the bed – the electric bed where there were other electrical pumps for IVs, etc. – I contemplated my getaway without getting electrocuted. And then I thought about the 99-year-old woman recovering from hip surgery in the bed next to me.

Fortunately, a maintenance man finally arrived that Sunday evening and quickly had the problem solved, thank goodness.

But it was now entirely clear to me that old Campbell River Hospital must have all sorts of maintenance headaches, causing problems for everyone.

We do need a new hospital, but we do not need two hospitals.

That’s the other conclusion I came to after speaking with dozens of nurses, a few doctors and other staff during my prolonged stay. Not a single one of them ever spoke in favour of the two hospital proposal: One here in Campbell River and the other in the Comox Valley.

Unfortunately, the region’s hospital board continues pushing forward with planning to build a new hospital, right beside our current old building, and the other on Ryan Road in Courtenay. I can’t think of a worse and more expensive proposition. And, you know, I don’t put any faith in the petition signed by 19,000 upper Islanders who say they want two hospitals. I have found that people “want what they want” but they rarely want to pay the enormous cost.

We’re talking upwards of $700-$800 million! There’s never been, and likely never will, be two projects so expensive to this area’s taxpayers.

I suspect that if two hospitals will be built, services will continue to be split up and either cutbacks will be made to the buildings or there will be huge cost overruns. I say, as did so many other health staff, that one modern hospital, with the latest equipment, will provide much better and more comprehensive health care to everyone. I plan to continue looking into this story in the coming months. Send me your thoughts to paulr@campbellrivermirror.com