Complaints arose from a hectic period at Comox hospital, says CEO

St. Joseph's president-CEO Jane Murphy says the Comox hospital was especially busy during a 24- to 48-hour period early last week.

St. Joseph’s president-CEO Jane Murphy says the Comox hospital was especially busy during a 24- to 48-hour period early last week — when the Comox Valley Record received several patient complaints.The Record heard about a lack of beds and an excess of patients.”Finding beds for all our patients has been a challenge, particularly in the last little bit,” Murphy said, noting the hospital is maximizing resources and being as efficient as possible to care for patients and to maintain a smooth flow.The hospital underwent a significant change last year with the introduction of a transitional care unit on the second floor. Tailored for the frail elderly, the unit is intended to better serve patients returning home or moving into residential care. The change has affected staffing and bed configurations, particularly on the third floor.Prior to the change, St. Joe’s administration needed to trim its spending by $1.3 million — a proportionate share of the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s $45-million shortfall.Comox Valley MLA Don McRae said the Health Ministry invested $800 million in health care services last year.”And VIHA got a portion,” said McRae, noting St. Joe’s is an independent hospital under contract to VIHA. “Indirectly I’m sure the monies would have come to the residents of the Comox Valley. But the cost of delivering services and the number of people needing services is increasing every year.”St. Joe’s received an operating budget exceeding $56 million, along with $551,458 in one-time funding for the current fiscal year, VIHA said. Base funding increased by 5.8 per cent, which gives the hospital “greater flexibility” in how it manages its budget. “Both VIHA and SJGH recognize there are increasing demands for services with a growing and aging population, and increasing costs associated with delivering services,” a VIHA statement said. “Within that environment, we have a responsibility to make budgetary decisions that reflect our operational priorities and where investments will benefit the largest number of patients. SJGH — as an independent facility with its own leadership, staff and board —makes its own decisions around its operational priorities.”Owned and operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, St. Joseph’s is “not a VIHA facility,” according to VIHA.While VIHA is the hospital’s primary funder, it is not involved in day-to-day operations, including staffing, budgeting and operational issues.reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com