Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) CEO and president Harold Waldner said construction of a health centre in Parksville will take 365 days, starting today. It will open to patients by June 2013.
There were ceremonial shovels but no actual construction crews or equipment at the site beside Trillium Lodge when VIHA and local government officials made the surprise announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Waldner also said the two-story, 3,640 sq.m (39,000 sq.ft.) facility will include “ten additional health practitioners,” to compliment the 36 physicians currently working in the Oceanside area. Health practitioners include various medical professionals like nurse practitioners and dentists.
“We’re just listening to the community — they want to be cared for as close to home as possible,” he said.
Some people at the announcement, and other local politicians are not convinced it is what they were asking for.
“This is not what the community asked for, and how would they know, there were no surveys or public consultation,” said Rick Sullivan after the announcement.
“It doesn’t have beds, palliative care, an emergency room, it’s not open 24/7…” he listed off, clearly frustrated.
“All this is doing is putting everything under one roof — who cares!” exclaimed MLA Scott Fraser who was not at the announcement. “Who says that’s a good thing, there are lots of seniors in this community that pick a doctor closest to their house.
“Now are they going to have to drive from Qualicum Beach to see their doctor?”
“This is the Wal-Mart version of health care. 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.”
With the need for a health facility recognized by the government since at least 1994, the current project is budgeted at $15.79 million, of which locals will pay 40 per cent — done through property taxes requisitioned by the Regional District Nanaimo. The RDN’s regional hospital district is a partner in the health centre with VIHA.
Located in the forested area behind Trillium Lodge seniors care facility, it is meant to improve access to primary care like prevention and chronic disease management, and urgent care for things like asthma, simple fractures, acute pain and allergic reactions.
“This is a major milestone for this long-awaited project,” said Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon. “For the first time ever in this community, the Oceanside health centre will provide urgent care services, and support people with a multi-disciplinary approach to maintain good health and a healthy lifestyle.”
It will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., seven days a week and be able to care for around 75 per cent of the patients would would typically visit an emergency room.
VIHA will move all of their Oceanside services in — including things like lab services, medical imaging, home and community care and mental health and addictions services.
The building will be full of the latest technology for electronic health records, do-it-yourself services like registration, teleconsultation with specialists and telehome monitoring
All of the speakers at the announcement singled out the work and support of Cantelon and the Federation of Oceanside Residents Associations and specifically spokesperson Tom Davies.
Further details are expected in the coming weeks including designs and further details on how the services will work. Information will updated at www.viha.ca/about_viha/building_for_health/oceanside.htm.