The Comox Valley campus of North Island Hospital. File photo

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

A lack of long-term care beds is putting much of the pressure on acute care beds inside the two new North Island Hospital campuses.

This was part of the message Scott McCarten, Island Health’s corporate director for capital management and finance projects, had for board members of the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD) during a meeting on Sept. 17. The CSRHD board is comprised of local and regional district government representatives from the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts and oversees local taxation for capital projects in the health care system in the region.

As part of a presentation on the two hospitals, McCarten recognized the hospitals often face a problem when it comes to patient loads.

“Our hospitals are often over-capacity,” he said.

One of the main contributors, he explained, has been an overflow of patients who should otherwise be in long-term care facilities.

“There’s a need for investment in all our communities,” he said.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley hospital operating above patient capacity

RELATED STORY: ‘It breaks our hearts and spirits’: North Island health care advocates decry overcrowded hospitals

He suggested the board, as part of its strategic planning process, could consider ways to partner on initiatives aimed at increasing the number of long-term beds in the community. Specifically, the north part of the Island could use a couple of facilities with 150 to 200 beds each. Island-wide, the demand is roughly 800 to 1,000.

“The demand is far outpacing the capacity to build,” he said. “We all know we’ve got a growing and aging population.”

The population of seniors is expected to double over the next 15 years. McCarten’s numbers also showed there is a problem in many places, although the north part of the Island is even further behind in the proportion of beds available to people 75 years or older. The number of long-term care beds for people on the Island is 63.5 per 1,000 compared with about 68 for B.C. as a whole. In contrast, for the Interior the number is 79.2.

“We know that across the Island and across the province, we need more long-term care capacity,” he said, adding, “Investing in long-term care sites will help the acute care sites.”

Several board members were not happy with the suggestion, saying the hospitals were built too small and now it sounded like they were being told they had to look at ways to raise capital for long-term care facilities as a way to find more places for seniors as well as take pressure off hospitals.

One of the obstacles, said David Frisch, one of the Courtenay representatives through the CVRD, is that local government has fewer options when raising taxes compared with the provincial government, though he did appreciate seeing the data concerning the challenges they face in terms of demand.

“The numbers are definitely informative,” he said.

Some board members, such Jim Abram, one of the SRD representatives, said they were being pushed into considering operating costs such as long-term care rather than purely capital projects.

“We don’t have the resources,” he said.

Andy Adams, the mayor of Campbell River and an SRD representative, used to work in health care administration, but he questioned McCarten’s implication the region needs to consider raising capital for long-term care beds if it wishes to be eligible to get provincial funding for the beds.

“I’m somewhat disturbed and a little bit offended,” he told McCarten. “I’m really struggling with the suggestion you have put forward.”

McCarten later clarified that he meant this was only an opportunity for the region to consider while planning rather than an ultimatum.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Hospitals

Just Posted

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

View Royal Coun. John Rogers stands next to an unearthed home heating oil tank. As a way to prevent environmental disasters, he is lobbying for a provincial registration system and mandatory inspection for all above-ground tanks, as well as a requirement to remove any underground tanks not used for a prescribed period of time. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Efforts to regulate Greater Victoria home heating oil tanks continues

View Royal councillor part of movement to identify old tanks, prevent catastrophic leaks

International Bat Week (Oct. 24-31) is a time for people to learn more about the nocturnal creatures and how to protect them. (Photo by Cory Olson)
Holy Halloween, it’s Bat Week!

Bats have been getting a bad rap — B.C. Bat Program looks to change that

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at Vancouver Island location

Sail Canada picks military facility at 19 Wing Comox for wind, waves and accommodations

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Kelowna City Hall has been vandalized overnight. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

FILE – A woman smokes a marijuana joint at a “Wake and Bake” legalized marijuana event in Toronto on October 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Home nurse visits could play big role in reducing cannabis use, smoking in young mothers

The program, dubbed the BC Healthy Connections Project, involves public health nursing home visits

Emergency crews respond to an apartment fire on Tuesday, Oct. 20. (PHOTO COURTESY JERRY FEVENS)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate possible arson

Fire was contained but three people displaced in aftermath

Graham Hughes, front, who ran as an independent candidate in the B.C. provincial election, sits with half a dozen supporters in front of Our Home on Eighth shelter, where Hughes is protesting the way homelessness has been dealt with in Port Alberni, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Protesters occupy Port Alberni’s shelter

Former election candidate leads sit-in outside to protest homelessness

Jordan Jay Ward, 20, is wanted Canada-wide for manslaughter. (Calgary police photo)
UPDATE: ‘Suspicious’ man seen in Parksville woods not manslaughter suspect

Hikers say he resembled Jordan Jay Ward, wanted Canada-wide

The ‘new normal’ for hockey parents in Chilliwack and elsewhere in B.C., watching their kids from outside of the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey parents petition to be let back in the arena

Refused access due to pandemic protocols, parents are now applying pressure to loosen the rules

Most Read