I admire the ingenuity of the hospital selection board building the hospital just a block away from the highest crash corner in the Comox Valley.
When there are the inevitable serious crashes at the corner, they won't even have to send ambulances out — just roll a few gurneys down to the corner! The savings will be massive!
Seriously, though, I would like to describe a scenario that is bound to happen if the hospital is built at the poorly chosen NIC location.
Let's say Bob and I are paramedics and our ambulance and several others have been called to a massive accident on the highway south of Cumberland. There is a blizzard going on and there is eight inches of very slippery snow (the Valley does have major snowfalls, three feet in 1996, two feet in 1995). Driving is very bad and road crews are scrambling to try to clear the snow.
We get to the accident scene and load up some of the injured and head for the hospital. Along Cliffe Avenue the traffic starts to back up and we find out that there are several crashes on the 17th Street Bridge and with four lanes blocked, there is no way we can get across even with our siren blaring.
We head for the Fifth street Bridge and it is jammed up with traffic backed up to 14th street. We finally get across the bridge and head for Ryan Road.
We get to Superstore and look ahead up Ryan and gasp. There are cars strewn all over Ryan from top to bottom in the four lanes and there are snowplows trying to clear and sand the road and police and wreckers trying to clear accidents. It is total gridlock!
The only chance to get these badly injured people to the hospital is to head up Mission Hill to Veterans Memorial Parkway.
We have a hard time getting up Mission Hill, as there are cars sliding all over the road and there are a few accidents. After an hour and a half, we are finally able to reach the hospital but with the time delay, one of the patients has died despite our best efforts.
Bob and I look at each other and in unison say, "How could they have built it up here when they had all those other sites available on the Courtenay side with no hills or bridges?"
Of course, snow is not the only thing to cause delays on our bridge crossings.
We have recently experienced a month of repairs on the Fifth Street Bridge, which created long backups of traffic. The past few weeks there has been maintenance on the 17th Street Bridge with one lane blocked causing delays.
There has been much discussion of the pros and cons of one large main hospital between Courtenay and Campbell River or two small ones.
The sensible choice is obvious to have one large main one halfway with lots of specialists and the ability to do operations such as pacemakers, angiograms and many others that require going to Nanaimo or Victoria.
It has been pointed out that the larger central hospital would attract more specialists. We had occasion to experience this a few years ago when we were living in the Interior.
A fine young doctor who did locums in our town and his wife were doing medical specialties and were looking to establish a practice. They favoured coming to the Comox Valley and had heard about the large central hospital being considered.
He asked us a lot of questions about it and when we told him that two smaller hospitals would probably be built, he stated, "We won't be going there; we need a large central hospital for our practices!"
We wonder how often this has happened!
Of course, financially it makes perfect sense because our provincial government has an inexhaustible supply of millions to burn! Let's add $600 million (going on to $8 million to $10 million by the time the hospitals are finished by 2017).
Our provincial capital debt is going up like a rocket with decisions like this.