Opinion

North Island needs regional hospital, concurs former chair of Comox facility

Dear editor,

Dr. Simice is right; we must have a regional hospital!

I well remember the promises made by several ministers of health of differing political  stripes:

"We are looking at a system to correct the inequities in Healthcare on the Central and North Island."

After consultation with other provinces they gave us regionalization ... "health-care decisions were to be made closer to home;" but that would be difficult for government.

Can you imagine, a regional health board that could make decisions in the region for the region and have access to the ministry? We wasted several years forming regional boards, attending meetings, even getting to the point of hiring board managers and acquiring meeting spaces in Comox and Campbell River, just to have the whole project stopped by ministerial order.

Next we were introduced to VIHA, the government's "firewall" in health care. This extra level of bureaucracy, inflicted upon us by successive governments, has allowed the provincial government and its Ministry of Health to abrogate their responsibilities.

They have accomplished this by insulating themselves from decision-making and criticism from the people who pay their salaries and are the end users of the health-care system ... the taxpayers!

Allowing this firewall to take control of all decisions in which the government should have the final say is incongruous to say the least!

Their scheme seems to have been "divide and conquer the North Island."  Pit the Comox Valley and Campbell River against each other, then make a Solomonic decision: "Two hospitals are better than one!"

We should all know what this decision will accomplish.

Fewer beds, less operating room time, fewer surgeons, fewer ICU/CCU beds, a reduced  number of ALC beds (exacerbating the now-familiar 'bed gridlock') ... that is what VIHA's bit of trickery will bring to the North Island.

In the old days, dealing with the Ministry of Health wasn't always easy but it  was a "walk in the park" compared to dealing with this bureaucratic firewall.

When are we going to have a government that has the intestinal fortitude to give VIHA some guidance since they are not able to make the right decision for the region? The right decision has been put forward several times, once even by VIHA.

One real regional hospital to serve the North Island with two satellite facilities to serve their respective communities.

We the taxpayers have what I would describe as a fleeting opportunity to turn this bad decision around.

Call our MLA, write to the Ministry of Health, let your voice be heard!

Jim Landry

Editor's note: Jim Landry is a former chair of St. Joseph's General Hospital.

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