Much has been said and written about the North Island Hospital Comox Valley Campus since it became the region’s primary health care facility last fall.
Letters to the editor, Beefs & Bouquets submissions and other feedback from Comox Valley residents about the new $332-million hospital have been both positive and negative.
In March, The Record reported that the hospital was operating above its patient capacity, with 178 patients admitted to the 129-bed facility on March 22. In a statement for that story, Island Health claimed the hospital’s average patient occupancy between mid-October and the end of January was 110 per cent.
At Island Health’s board meeting on March 29 in Courtenay, various advocacy groups brought forward issues about the new hospital. The Elders Take Action group highlighted negative experiences shared by some Comox Valley seniors at the facility.
Considering these issues, The Record submitted a Freedom of Information request to Island Health’s Patient Care Quality Office (PCQO) on April 18. The PCQO is where patients who were unhappy with their experience at Island Health facilities are asked to submit their complaints, concerns, and other feedback.
The request was for copies of all the initial complaint letters received regarding the Comox Valley’s new hospital between Oct. 2, 2017, and April 18, 2018.
The requested records were provided in a table format on May 30. Island Health edited the letters to de-identify the individuals who submitted them, but the submissions still consisted of a general summary of the individuals’ complaints and which month they were received by the PCQO.
Here is a breakdown of those complaints.
Thirty-eight complaints were submitted to the PCQO between Oct. 2 and April 18. Of those, 28 had to do with patient care, five had to do with the hospital’s signage, six were related to the facility itself, and one had to do with technology.
(There was some overlap, with a handful of complaints relating to both signage and patient care).
Three complaints were submitted in October, four in November, four in December, 12 in January, six in February, five in March, and three in the first 18 days of April. One complaint was un-dated, but Island Health wrote that it stemmed from a visit in November or December.
The records show the PCQO received an average of just over five formal complaints about the Comox Valley hospital per month in the facility’s first 6.5 months of operation.
Of the complaints related to patient care, the most common criticism was wait times for service. Other common criticisms were unprofessional behaviour from staff, overcrowding, and being sent home prematurely.
Complaints about signage summarized that it was difficult to navigate the new hospital, and that improved signposting is needed to make moving through the building less confusing.
Facility-related complaints referred to inadequate parking space, staff parking in the general parking areas, and a ‘no-smoking by the entrance’ rule not being enforced.
Response from Island Health
A statement from Island Health on June 4 acknowledges that the health authority knew there would be some transitional changes as it made the move from St. Joseph’s to the new hospital, but that the move has gone “exceptionally well” for the most part.
“The 38 complaints submitted to our Patient Care Quality Office represent approximately 2/10ths of 1 per cent of all patients served at the Comox Valley campus during that time period,” reads the statement. “While we are pleased to see the vast majority of people were satisfied with their care, we investigate and take every complaint seriously.”