News

Shift Parksville health centre priorities: Lupton

Floor plans and more details are coming out about the Oceanside Health Centre, as some continue to question the plan and push for more input.

A recent Vancouver Island Health Authority news release said the facility is creating jobs, with 10 locals involved in construction.

“Not only will this project create local construction jobs during the building phase,” said Ron Cantelon, Parksville-Qualicum MLA in the release, “(and) it will continue to support long-term, stable and well-paid jobs for health care providers.”

They are also working on environmental aspects.

“Throughout the construction of this facility, we are committed to sustainable processes including re-using materials wherever we can.” said Rudi Van den Broek, VIHA general manager of special projects.

As work progresses, there was a rally scheduled Friday (today) by people unsatisfied with the current plans and upset about the lack of public input.

George Lupton, a local resident with 25 years experience in hospital administration, including time on the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Arrowsmith Rest Home Society boards, said the current model is flawed and missing some key components.

“Everybody agrees it is not ideal, but it is a start,” he said, indicating there should be enough space for what the community wants and needs, it’s just a matter of shifting priorities.

His main issue is what he sees as a much wider problem with the provincial governance, pointing out that on all the health authority boards in B.C., there isn’t a single person with a health care background.

“They’re all lawyers, accountants, bureaucrats and business people appointed by the government and not responsible to the communities.”

“We’re not getting what the community wants, we’re getting what the bureaucrats want,” he said, adding local residents and doctors know best what’s needed but have not been included.

When the current VIHA board chair Don Hubbard was appointed in Dec. 2010 he told The News that board members “represent the entire VIHA region ... they don’t represent the areas they come from.”

Lupton said it is unfortunate that doctors have not been speaking up about the project and that it would be “tragic” if it was a case of them not wanting to “bite the hand that feeds them,” as some have speculated.

He said that was a big part of why he stepped down from the Arrowsmith board — to speak his mind without it reflecting on that organization.

He agrees with opponents that the current plan lacks what’s most needed — urgent care.

He said there may be benefits to the centralization of the other services in a nice new building, that it’s a great location near the highway and VIHA’s Trillium retirement facility, but most of the services already exist in the community.

Watch future editions of The News for more of Lupton’s insights into what the facility could/should include and why he believes planned inclusions like a pharmacy, X-ray clinic and labs will be problematic.

VIHA recently sent out an open letter in response to the questions and controversy, explaining that the facility will be part of the changing approach to health care and rather than a full hospital or emergency room they will have more of a team approach meant to keep people healthy and out of emergency rooms.

“VIHA is committed to close and detailed discussions with the Oceanside community about this new approach to care and how it will benefit local residents,” concludes the letter from Dr. Bob Burns, VIHA executive medical director population and community health.

There is a dedicated VIHA webpage with information and updates about the project including floor plans at www.viha.ca/about_viha/building_for_health/oceanside.htm.

Look for Burns’ letter online at pqbnews.com, in the digital version of this story.

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