We understand that VIHA has decided to build a hospital in Courtenay as well as in Campbell River.
I recently was made aware of the fact that in or around 2006 VIHA was considering building a regional hospital “in a neutral location” between Campbell River and the Comox Valley.
This to me is a very sensible solution to this ongoing challenge. Building two smaller hospitals, one in Campbell River and one in Courtenay, will not attract the necessary medical specialists to settle in either one of these cities.
Since February 2010 I have been volunteering as a driver for Wheels For Wellness (WFW). On an annual basis WFW transports thousands of patients to Victoria and Nanaimo to seek medical treatment from medical specialists that are not available north of Nanaimo.
WFW has 15 vans transporting patients each working day. Most of these patients are elderly and are unable to make the long journey to Victoria. Often times these patients are picked up as early as 4:30 a.m. to make their 9 a.m. appointment. These appointments can be for cancer treatments, eye treatment, hospitalization, pain clinics, etc.
As well, WFW makes trips to Vancouver for medical specialization.
To attract the necessary medical expertise (specialists) to the central part of the Island, we need a large regional hospital, rather than two small hospitals in Courtenay and Campbell River. Having one large regional hospital serves several purposes, one of which is that it would make the central island more attractive for qualified medical practitioners to settle in this area.
In addition it would make it easier for our aging population to find the necessary medical care without having to travel to Victoria.
Rather than submitting to “ill-perceived” public pressure, VIHA should take a leadership role and properly explain things to the residents of this area and build one large hospital along the Island Highway that would be easily accessible for Campbell River and Comox Valley residents.
The largest negative I have heard is that it would take as much as half an hour to get to the hospital from Comox.
However, that is nothing compared to what it takes to get patients to hospitals in major cities such as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary or Toronto. It often times takes much longer to reach a hospital in these locations.
As the heading on the VIHA webpage indicates, “board members of VIHA are chosen for their leadership skills, decision-making abilities and willingness to be accountable.”
Certainly in this case leadership skills are of prime importance. Remember, it is never too late to make the right decision.
Jack and Henrietta Schenk,