[UPDATE JAN. 4, 2012: The Health Care Community Forum on Jan. 11 has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.]
The Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities has two health events to help kick off the new year.
The coalition’s John Olsen stressed the similar events on the health centre and senior care are separate, it’s just coincidence “they came about out of thin air at the same time.”
First, the volunteer group will co-host the next Oceanside Division of Family Practice (ODFP) information session on Wed., Jan. 11 on the local health centre hot topic.
After a series of talks in the fall on things like diabetes and addiction, the 30-member ODFP, meant to spread medical information directly to the community, connected with the coalition to talk about the health centre.
The coalition’s goal is spreading non-partisan information on public assets and social programs, so Olsen said this is exactly the kind of public forum they do.
Vancouver Island Health Authority president and CEO Harold Waldner recently said he is confident the long promised $14 million Oceanside health centre will start “very early in the calendar year.”
The plan has been controversial due to slow progress, limited doctor involvement in planning and some, like the Coalition for Strong Communities saying it’s just glorified walk-in clinic that will block progress on full facilities the region deserves.
“We think the health centre is grossly inadequate and we advocate for the building of a community hospital,” Olsen said.
He pointed to the fact that the majority of issues Oceanside residents go to the Nanaimo hospital for could be treated locally.
“We are on record as being in conflict with FORA’s (the Federation of Oceanside Residents Associations) support of the current proposal,” he added, suggesting they want FORA’s original request of a 48 bed facility.
Olsen is also surprised local politicians support the idea of locals paying 40 per cent of the cost, rather than receiving full provincial funding.
While all the details weren’t available, the evening will include representatives from VIHA and FORA.
He said he hopes something concrete comes out of both evening, such as establishing a community advisory committee for input on the health centre.
Both free events start at 7 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre, the health centre discussion on Wednesday, Jan. 11, followed by a film and discussion of senior care a week later on Thurs., Jan. 19.
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Along with a discussion about the proposed Oceanside health centre, the Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities is hosting a film and discussion the following week.
They will screen the acclaimed 28 minute documentary The Remaining Light on how we care for seniors in B.C. and then have some form of discussion, said the coalition’s John Olsen.
Presented by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Hospital Employees Union, it paints an unflattering picture of the current conditions in B.C. which are currently being studied by the provincial ombudsperson.
Olsen said the film shows that both the quantity and quality of care for seniors is decreasing in B.C.
He also points to the financial problems of the Stanford Place care home in Parksville as an example of inadequate funding.
Olsen said he hopes ideas on how to improve senior care will grow out of the event.
The short film is available free online, Google it or check www.policyalternatives.ca in “seniors care” under the Projects & Initiatives menu.
The free evening starts at 7 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre, Thurs., Jan. 19.