LETTER – Comox Valley hospital needs more beds, now

Dear editor,

We share Liza Schmalcel’s hospital over-capacity concerns and support the hospital board’s decision against the water features (Thank you, hospital board, for voting against water features, Feb. 14 Letter). Island Health’s corporate office failure to provide enough residential care beds is a significant unplanned factor affecting hospital over-capacity because too many seniors need to remain in hospital until a care bed becomes available.

The recently announced addition of 120 care beds and permanent funding for another 51 beds is not enough. It brings us up to what we needed in 2017 but not until 2021. Island Health projects a 55 per cent increase in Comox Valley seniors 75 years and older, from 2017-2027.

This means that since 2017, our demand for residential care beds has increased by an average 29 beds per year. When the planned new beds are operational in 2021, we will need at least another 100-120 beds.

The new Comox hospital has continuously operated at over-capacity levels well above 100 per cent since it opened. It is already operating at 146 beds of its maximum 10-year design capacity of 153 beds, compared to 129 beds when it opened. Despite adding hospital beds and the 21 new transition beds at the Views, hospital over-capacity this winter has been as high as 138 per cent (202 patients on Jan. 11, 2018).

Priority needs to be placed on providing enough residential care beds and on cost-effective solutions as alternatives to hospital expansion. The cost savings of a residential care bed, as opposed to a hospital bed, is at least $500 a day.

Liza Schmalcel is totally correct — even with adequate residential care and home care, our growing and aging population makes us concerned that the hospital capacity is not adequate for the immediate and foreseeable future.

Past experience suggests that it might take several years for the provincial government to respond. Solutions are needed now!

Peggy Stirrett, Delores Broten,

Seniors Voices Comox Valley

Email us at seniorsvoicescomoxvalley@gmail.com

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