Open letter to the Right Honourable Premier – Christy Clark, Honourable BC Minister of Health – Michael de Jong, Comox Valley MLA Don McRae, VIHA and the people of the Comox Valley, Campbell River and Northern Vancouver Island.
Re: New North Island Hospital
We all want quality health care close enough that we can access high quality emergency services quickly and not so urgent medical care, geriatrics, specialized tests, surgery and long term treatments within a reasonable distance.
But we, the people of Northern Vancouver Island, have a problem – we are spread out over a rather large area. So, when VIHA started to realize that our growth demanded increased health care services they did the smart thing and hired an outside independent consultant group to study the problem and make a recommendation based on current and future population growth, transportation infrastructure, services needed and financial cost. They came back with a recommendation for a large regional hospital located on the new Inland Island Highway between Campbell River and the Comox Valley. It made the best sense for supplying the best access to complete emergency and specialized services to the widest catchment area at the lowest cost. That decision and that reasoning is valid today and supported by the opinions of local doctors, emergency care physicians and first responders of whom the writer is aware and who have and continue to expressed their desire for a single regional hospital on the Inland Island Highway as making the most sense.
But unfortunately, some of us are a vocal, self interested bunch who were not happy with a solution that was to the mutual benefit of the majority and which made the most fiscal sense and we cried fowl to the north and fowl to the south with each area forming action groups, each demanding that a hospital be build in our own backyard. (Apparently some of us still have not learned to share very well and we would rather that we all get less overall when it comes to specialized and emergency services provided we have a hospital in our own neighbourhood with disregard that the increased cost will be shared by not only the local community but by every tax payer in the province.)
And the result was VIHA caved to these special interest group’s demands. In doing so they clearly showed a lack of leadership and fiscal folly – they ignored the experts and elected to build two hospitals – with reduced services and at a greater cost. To make matters worse, their decision regarding the Comox Valley hospital location, which they refused to justify with any sound reasoning, smacked of political and corporate favouritism and is/was so wrong for so many reasons. Thankfully, that location was killed by the Feds because it was within the restricted airspace of CFB Comox. Somebody, clearly, did not do their homework in their rush to satisfy powerful and politically connected developers who seemed giddy and were unabashedly promoting their properties within days of the announcement as having a hospital within walking distance and that one should buy now as the values were going up and admittedly that this was something they had been working to achieve for a long time. (Made me feel sick at the blatant abuse of the process with public funds and I sure wish the developer would explain how and to whom they worked on to get this within their development.)
Which brings us to where we are at today. VIHA has been very quiet since they got so publicly embarrassed at the squashing of the Crown Isle site in Courtenay by the Feds. Campbell River’s special interest group has been hearing the groundswell of discontentment among Comox Valley residences who are in favour of a single North Island hospital site and those voices in Campbell River are ramping up their rhetoric to have a two hospital model maintained.
So where do we go from here? Are we back to the bickering amongst a loud but vocal minority who place their own self interests above what is best for the majority? I hope not.