LETTER: Island Health – a public accountability question

Public forum craftily staged to avoid concerns presented

Dear editor,

The gap was staggering, between the serious nature of the issues presented by community representatives and the response provided by the Island Health Board at its March 29 public forum in Courtenay.

Island Health staged the forum in a way that avoided any need to directly address the specific concerns presented. Despite advance knowledge of the points of view for the five presentations they selected, no meaningful response was made in the moment. Answers to advance questions from the public were provided in a written handout but were unclear and confusing. Communications specialists consider the room set-up ’confrontational’ in that it made the presenters accountable to the public in attendance while the board sat on the side as the public’s observers. It’s disrespectful to ask people to do something and then ignore their efforts and point of view. Respect is a principle under the BC Taxpayer Accountability Principles, June 2014.

There was no acknowledgment of issues like the need for more home care support services (except an oblique reference to working on it), the inequity of the current residential care bed allocation, and the immediate need for more residential care beds than planned. It was not clear that stories about people’s experience at the new Comox Valley Hospital and its state of cleanliness were heard by the board and management. The reaction was defensive; I would have expected to hear an acknowledgment that there are problems and the executive is working with local management to resolve them and committed to updating you on our progress.

Words on a website and declarations that “we do all those things” state intentions, but actions speak louder than words. If they do not match, then public accountability claims ring hollow.

Stephen D. Shepherdson,

Comox

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