The decision as to whether to build a new hospital off Ryan Road is a critical one for the future of our community.
The current proposal raises the following questions and I encourage members of the public and the City of Courtenay council to consider them.
1. Is the proposed site big enough? The property appears to be smaller than St. Joseph’s and small by Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) standards.
We need to ensure there is sufficient space to meet current needs and room to expand the hospital in the future as the Valley’s population increases. The original plan was for 250 beds but this has been reduced to 153.
2. Will the site have access on more than one side? Limited access could a) compromise response time during emergencies; b) create a risk that service vehicles impede access for ambulances and members of the public; and c) compromise patient safety in the event that a traffic accident near the hospital blocks ambulance access.
3. Why was a site chosen in an area that is marked as being hazardous from a traffic perspective?
4. Will the heliport on this limited site have direct and easy access to Emergency?
5. Is the location appropriate from an ambience perspective? Research demonstrates that outcomes for patients are improved by access to nature and pleasing vistas, as these are conducive to healing. The proposed site does not have the same advantages as St. Joseph’s in this respect.
6. Are there sufficient services near the proposed site, such as a fire station? And what are the implications of a hotel not being close by for use by expectant mothers, patients, and family members?
7. What are the results of the engineering report that was completed on the site, and when will this report be made public?
8. What impact will the hospital have on neighbouring areas? For example, will the site prevent or restrict any future expansion of North Island College and will the noise from sirens disrupt students at the college? In addition, if a nearby school loses playing fields, this will have adverse effects on the health and fitness of young people and the esthetics of the area.
9. Has consideration been given to a) selecting a different site; b) building a large regional hospital situated between the Comox Valley and Campbell River that would service both communities; or c) upgrading and enlarging St. Joseph’s rather than building a new hospital?
The considerable amount of money that would be saved from updating St. Joseph’s could be used to improve home care, long term care services, and hospice facilities.
Taxpayers will be paying for a new hospital for decades. As a result, we need to be certain that building a new hospital on the proposed site will be a step forward and not back. This is a difficult decision for local and provincial governments and we should seize the opportunity to make the right choice for all communities that will use the hospital.
Dr. Lui Carvalho,
Editor’s note: Dr. Lui Carvalho is a former president of St. Joseph’s Medical Staff and Society, John Tayless is a former academic dean at North Island College and Tom Witty is a three-time municipal councillor outside the Comox Valley.