On time, on budget

Negotiations continue with X-ray, lab services in Parksville health centre project

The Oceanside Health Centre is right on schedule and budget, according to the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

The second floor of the 3,640 square metre (39,000 sq.ft.) facility is currently being framed and the hope is to have the roof on by the end of the October and the facility remains on track to open in July 2013, said VIHA spokesperson Suzanne Germain.

The health authority is making progress but haven’t completed negotiations with X-ray and lab services that are expected to relocate into the facility, said Germain.

A need for the urgent and primary care health facility has been recognized in the area for nearly 20 years, and construction began this year.

Formal studies date back to 2001 and things started rolling in early 2009, but as recent as the beginning of this year, there was little solid progress.

After an Expressions of Interest process of more than a year, VIHA selected a Lower Mainland company to build and operate the facility in a public private partnership (P3) model. The following year, VIHA announced they would build it themselves but have never explained the change.

Amid the questions and occasional protests about the lack of progress, VIHA held a surprise ground breaking on January 27 this year.

Budgeted at $15.8 million, local residents will pay 40 per cent through regional district property taxes estimated at $1.54 per $100,000 of property value. Its opening will coincide with the addition of 10 “health practitioners” to the region’s 36 physicians, though Germain couldn’t specify what kind of professionals would be part of those 10.

Sheila Cruikshank, future director of the facility, said they have two new doctors confirmed and are in talks with two others, adding that the facility will help recruitment since new doctors are trained in integrated health care and prefer centralized facilities.

Cruikshank said several aspects — like the use of electronic health records and self-scheduling — are pilot projects for the province, making the system more efficient so patients don’t have to keep repeating their information.

VIHA will move all of their Oceanside services in, including lab services, medical imaging including x-ray and ultrasound, home and community care, a pharmacy and mental health and addictions services.

The facility is meant to improve access to primary care like prevention and chronic disease management, and urgent care for things like wound care, scheduled ambulatory procedures, simple skin cancer, changing casts, carpel tunnel operations.

Major traumas and things like heart attacks may be stabilized there, but will be moved to Nanaimo as quick as possible.

Dr. Bob Burns, VIHA executive medical director for population and family health, told Parksville council the facility will be able to care for around 75 percent of typical emergency room patients, including all but four who travel to neighbouring emergency rooms.

“We’re just listening to the community — they want to be cared for as close to home as possible,” Waldner said at the groundbreaking ceremony, but some in the community are not convinced.

“This is not what the community asked for, and how would they know, there were no surveys or public consultation,” said resident Rick Sullivan at the announcement.

“It doesn’t have beds, palliative care, an emergency room, it’s not open 24/7…” he listed off, clearly frustrated.

George Lupton, a local resident with 25 years experience in hospital administration including time on the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital board, said the model is flawed and missing some components.

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

“This is the Wal-Mart version of health care,” said MLA Scott Fraser. “I think we need an investigation into how we got to this point without public tendering, VIHA is just shifting the cost back onto the local taxpayers and we’re not getting any new services.”

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon — who has been widely praised for seeing the project through, including by the premier — defends it as a great start that will “create ten local construction jobs during the building phase and will continue to support long-term, stable and well-paid jobs for health care providers.”

“It will offer improved care coordination and a single, state-of-the-art electronic health record, ensuring a focus not only on immediate care needs, but also on longer term health promotion and disease management,” Waldner recently reiterated.

The Oceanside Health Centre is scheduled to open July 1, 2013 and will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., seven days a week.

For more information check the tab on the right at www.viha.ca.


——– Timeline



2001 – Central Vancouver Island Health Region report says Oceanside health centre need recognized as early as 1994.

– recommends five key components, endorsed by Parksville, Qualicum Beach and the Regional District of Nanaimo.



2005 – Dr. Tom Dorran report calls for increased inpatient bed capacity over 2001 study




– FORA (Federation of Oceanside Residents Associations) formed, gathers 5,000+ signatures calling for 2001 recommendations “Do It Now.”

– Feb. – VIHA posts call for expressions of interest (EOI)

– June 29 – EOI sent out.

– Aug. 21 – EOI deadline – five proponents eventually named.




– Feb. 5 – Request for proposals (RFP) sent to the five named proponents.

– June 3 – RFP deadline, two proposals received.

– July 2 – Stanford Place Holdings selected to build and operate facility, VIHA says they will negotiate deal within 30 days.

– Oct. 10 – VIHA said they will releaced a “detailed service delivery plan,” by the end of November, 2010 (never did)




– Jan. – Trillium Lodge property named as site

– June 28 – premier Christy Clark says “I am absolutely committed to seeing this primary health care facility get going,” hope to start by September 2011

– Dec. – shovels poised, waiting on final signature from Ministry of Health

– VIHA promises open house information day early in the new year




Jan. 27 – surprise ceremonial ground-breaking





2001 capital study/what residents where originally requesting:

1. Urgent care  — 24 hour a day, 7 day a week treatment of unscheduled patients for unexpected illnesses and injuries except stroke, heart attack and major trauma.

2. Primary health care — family physicians, nurses and support staff providing a wide range of care over extended hours of operation.

3. Ambulatory care  — an extension of primary care for heart health, pulmonary & asthma, diabetes education, foot care, women’s health issues and hypertension.

4. Diagnostic and treatment  — clinics for palliative care, medical daycare, cancer program, minor procedures, visiting specialists, modern diagnostic radiology and on-site labs.

5. Inpatient services  — 45 beds for care by family physicians, short-stay assessment, convalescence and palliative care.



Project underway will include:

1. Urgent care — open 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., 7 days a week immediate assessment and treatment for medical conditions that require same-day treatment and stabilization for transfer to hospital.

2. Primary health care — up to ten health care providers, supported by an interdisciplinary team targeted at prevention, health promotion and chronic disease management.

3. Ambulatory care  — an extension of primary care including home and community care, mental health and addiction services and health promotion

4. Diagnostic and treatment  — clinics visiting specialists, modern diagnostic radiology and on-site labs.

5. Electronic record keeping and other existing direct VIHA services from across District 69


– no Inpatient services



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