Comox Valley hospital officially opens; helipad not yet certified

With staff, board members, volunteers, members of the community and Premier John Horgan on hand, the new Comox Valley campus of the North Island Hospital officially opened Tuesday afternoon.

“We have the opportunity to follow through on the work of previous governments. We’re going to ensure the new government … makes sure that the public services that people depend on here in the Courtenay-Comox region are provided in a state-of-the-art, world-class facility,” noted Horgan.

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard added the campus is something the community has supported from the outset.

“Our families and loved ones will benefit from the enhanced facilities and improvements to patient care.”

The 153-bed Comox Valley campus is part of the North Island Hospitals Project, which includes a 95-bed facility in Campbell River.

The combined cost of the project is $606.2 million, with the project cost-shared through a 60/40 split between the provincial government and the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District.

While both hospitals have been operational since the fall, the helipads at both facilities are not certified for operation.

Horgan told media afterward the province is awaiting Transport Canada’s deliberations on what classification will be given to both facilities.

“If by chance, they rule against the configuration as it exists today, we’ll find other mechanisms to ensure health care is not compromised. I’m hopeful that Transport Canada will find in favour of the two hospitals and the plan that they have in place, but if they don’t, there are secondary plans and we’ll implement those.”

Chief Project Officer of the North Island Hospitals Project Tom Sparrow, who was also at the official opening, said he’s hoping to receive the full certification within the next month.

“In the future, we need to work much more closely with our partners at Transport Canada to ensure that some of these processes are dealt with well in advance so we’re not dealing with situations like this on opening day.”

When asked about the status of the long-term care and hospice situation in the Valley, Horgan responded that Island Health is working on a solution.

“We need to ensure we don’t just have quality care for people who are coming looking to get better, but we need to make sure we have end-of-life care in not just in Campbell River and Comox, but in both communities. I’m committed to working with Minister Dix and Island Health to make sure we can do that.”

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Premier John Horgan officially opens the new North Island Hospital Comox Valley campus Tuesday afternoon in Courtenay. Photo by Erin Haluschak

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