Palliative beds petition delivered to Parksville Qualicum MLA

'Change takes time,' says Parksville Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell

A petition with 4,000 signatures will be hand delivered to the capital city this month.

It calls for more palliative care beds in Parksville Qualicum Beach sooner rather than later.

Carol Dowe gave the wad of signatures to Parksville Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell Friday morning.

Stilwell is slated to present the petition in the legislature Oct. 20.

Dowe, who leads the Oceanside Palliative Caregivers group, is hoping the petition will spur the change she’s been fighting for since 2003.

“We need these beds now,” said Dowe, with urgency.

“The heartbeat of this community of some 50,000 citizens needs to have the beds locally so our families can be together at these precious times.”

Parksville Qualicum Beach, with one of the oldest populations in the country, currently has only one palliative bed.

Dowe said volunteers have been collecting signatures and letters from Nanoose Bay to Bowser. She said it was an “emotional experience” collecting signatures, hearing stories and reading the letters written by likeminded residents demanding higher quality health care.

Upon receiving the petition, Stilwell commended Dowe and the Oceanside Palliative Caregivers group for their hard work.

“It’s great advocacy in our community,” she said of the petition. “I’m happy to provide it to the House and continue working with Island Health to ensure my constituency is well cared for.”

In August, Island Health announced they would double the number of hospice beds across the province from 32 to 64 by 2020.

According to the release, Parksville Qualicum Beach is slated to get 5 more beds. Stilwell said she’d do her best to get the beds by 2015/2016.

“We have to be patient,” she said. “Change takes time.”