Privatization at new Comox Valley hospital one topic for town hall meeting

Concern about privatizing services at the new Comox Valley Hospital will likely be discussed at a town hall meeting this month.

Concerns surrounding the privatization of services at the new Comox Valley Hospital will likely be one of the topics discussed at a town hall meeting this month.

Citizens for Quality Healthcare (CQHC) has organized the meeting to discuss concerns around the planned public-private partnership (P3) model for the North Island Hospitals Project, which will be held in the Rotary Room of the Florence Filberg Centre from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.

Gwyn Frayne of CQHC worries what kinds of services could be under the private company’s control.

“I have to point out that we’re most concerned about the services,” said Frayne. “Care aides, housekeeping, kitchen staff, technical staff, everything, all of those services. We are quite worried about the contracting out of the services.”

Vancouver Island Health Authority’s (VIHA) Grant Hollett, North Island Hospitals Project (NIHP) interim project director, stressed the model is a partnership — instead of simply designing and building a hospital, the company must design, build, finance and maintain it. The contract would likely be for 30 years, and some “soft” services could be the chosen company’s responsibility.

“Soft services are usually negotiable, and they can include housekeeping, and they can include waste management, they can include parking services and things like that,” said Hollett, adding planting services, general maintenance and help desk services to the list of examples.

He also said he understands privatized housekeeping services in the new hospitals is a concern for some.

“We did put out the RFQ (request for qualifications) asking for interest in providing housekeeping services. But the final decision about what we want won’t be made until we start to go to the RFP (request for proposals) process and get close to final selection on that.”

According to Hollett, VIHA has heard from eight companies interested in a contract during the RFQ stage, and that list will be shortened down to three, likely by the end of the year, when VIHA starts its RFP stage.

He added housekeeping has been contracted out for a number of years in South Island hospitals, but not in the Comox Valley or Campbell River hospitals.

CQHC member Barb Biley, an employee of St. Joseph’s General Hospital and a member of the Hospital Employees Union, said she’s concerned some medical services such as diagnostic imaging and X-ray could be private.

However, Hollett stressed all services related to healthcare would be VIHA’s responsibility.

“Every position that has to do with the delivery of healthcare services is VIHA’s sole responsibility — that’s not part of the partnership,” said Hollett, and when asked if health care services would remain staffed through VIHA, he said: “Yes, as they are now. That will not change. That wouldn’t give us the performance gain we’re looking for. We’re looking for performance gain, risk transfer and innovation in the facility.”

Hollett added the P3 model will give the greatest value to taxpayers and is the best option to ensure the project is completed on time and on budget.

But, Frayne worries the project could cost more in the long-run with the P3 model, and that some accountability could be lost if private profit is a factor.

“They’re looking at health care, the soft resources as being the place they can make money,” said Frayne. “And when the profit motive comes into a P3 we know from our research it always makes it more expensive, always, without any exceptions.

“We watched the development in England of how the accountability was lost when the private services were allowed in and we can see that even with how in some of the hospitals in B.C.”

However, Hollett said the private company would need to meet specific standards — such as frequency of elevator breakdowns, or how quickly light bulbs must be replaced — and if it doesn’t meet these standards it would be docked payments as would be set out in the contract.

He also said the private company would take the risk of cost overruns during building due to the signed contract with a fixed price.

There will be three guest speakers at the town hall meeting, including Dr. Vanessa Brcic, Stephen Elliot-Buckley and Biley. Frayne would also like to see some VIHA officials attend.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Just Posted

Mark Henderson’s exhibit, “Bikes and Barbies,” is now showing at Artful : The Gallery on Cumberland Road in Courtenay. Photo supplied.
New exhibit at Courtenay art gallery

Artful : The Gallery is showing art by Mark Henderson until Saturday,… Continue reading

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident north of Courtenay nets almost 10-year sentence

Richard Daniel Vigneault was arrested without incident and faced 16 counts

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

UPDATED: Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

Danielle Egilson has been awarded a $40,000 post-secondary scholarship with The Cmolik Foundation. Photo supplied
Student from Courtenay’s Vanier Secondary lands prestigious scholarship

Cmolik Foundation provides opportunities for youth who’ve experienced adversity

While the route to get there is a little different, downtown Courtenay is open and accessible right now. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Bridge — and downtown Courtenay — are open, say businesses

Incoming BIA president Sean Ferguson says parking is available

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read