New palliative care beds for Parksville Qualicum Beach coming by the fall

Island Health CEO makes pledge after visiting the region

The president and CEO of Island Health says he expects Parksville Qualicum Beach will get  up to six new palliative care beds by late fall.

Dr. Brendan Carr made the announcement after Island Health’s board of directors met in front of about 100 people at the Parksville Community Centre on Thursday. Carr was not available for comment immediately after the meeting, but responded to a request for information from The NEWS via e-mail later that day.

“As part of the development of Island Health’s overall end of life plan, we have developed a bed plan for beds in community and hospital settings,” wrote Carr. “The bed plan is based on ‘hospice clusters’ of four-six beds in various communities, including Oceanside. These beds will be located in established residential care settings and funded using existing resources.”

The Island Health board of directors got the business portion of its meeting on Thursday — including a presentation by Oceanside Hospice Society’s Lynn Wood — done in about 45 minutes.

Carr and board chair Don Hubbard then took questions from the floor.

They heard from a Hospital Employees Union member who works at Stanford Place who asked the health authority to take over the private contract at that facility.

“We beg our health authorities to take over these P3 (public-private partnerships) facilities and run them in a respectful way,” said the man, who also suggested the answer for palliative care beds in the region could lie in the empty beds at Stanford Place.”

“We acknowledge it is challenging sometimes with these (P3) relationships ,” said Carr. But I’m not sure the simple answer is us taking over these contracts.”

Carr and Hubbard also heard from members of the B.C. Nurses Union (BCNU), including a woman who identified herself as Chris and said she works at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. She came with a petition with 2,800 signatures, all wrapped up in a red bow, bringing the total to 19,000 signatures asking for improvements in working conditions for nurses.

BCNU’s Pacific Rim chair Jo Salken later took to the microphone, telling Carr and Hubbard that two nurses at the Oceanside Health Centre are currently on stress leave and two others may do the same soon “because they can’t handle their workloads.”

“Things need to change or we are going to be losing people left, right and centre,” said Salken.

A local woman, Carol Dowe, didn’t wait for a microphone to come to her seat in the audience. She went to the podium occupied by Carr and Hubbard to present a 2,000-signature petition asking for more palliative care beds in Parksville Qualicum Beach. In his e-mail to

The NEWS after the meeting, Carr explained what’s at work on this issue.

“The Oceanside End of Life Working Group was formed about a year ago and is a group of the Oceanside Division of Family Practice,” wrote Carr. “The group’s members include representatives from Hospice, Island Health, Patient Voices, physicians, the Society of Organized Services, Salvation Army, Pharmacy and residential care partners. The group meets monthly and its priority is to develop a coordinated approach to palliative care services in the Oceanside area. The working group is currently developing a plan of which the outcome will be to enhance palliative care services in the Oceanside area and anticipates it will complete this plan in early fall. Once approved – anticipated by late fall, implementation of the plan will begin.”

Island Health also provided The NEWS some statistics related to end-of-life issues in this region:

• In 2013, there were 170 palliative care patients in the Oceanside area who were registered with Home and Community Care and passed away. Of these patients, 45 per cent died at home, 30 per cent died at the PCU located at NRGH, eight per cent died in the EOL bed located at Eagle Park residential care facility and seven percent were either discharged or moved.

• Each year, approximately 6,000 persons die of natural causes on Vancouver Island(of these, approximately 70 per cent are non-cancer); 19 per cent died at home supported by Home and Community Care services, 27 per cent  in Residential Services, 45 per cent  in Island Health acute care settings and  seven per cent in palliative or hospice care settings.

In other news from Island Health’s meeting in Parksville on Thursday:

• CEO Carr touted the results of the scrutiny applied to Island Health by Accreditation Canada. Carr said the national agency said Island Health is meeting standards in 97 per cent of its operations.

“It’s important to us to have some external points of view,” he told the crowd in part of his wide-ranging, 35-minute report to the board.

• Tom Davies, a Qualicum Beach resident who was instrumental in the push to get the Oceanside Health Centre built here, told the crowd he is impressed with what’s happening at the year-old facility, especially after having to use the services himself recently.

“I couldn’t have been treated better,” said Davies, president of the Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Association. “What our folks around here don’t get is the OHC is saving lives on a daily basis. Three years ago there was nothing here. We are better served right now in this Oceanside area than we ever have been before.”

 

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