EDITORIAL: Just what do we have?

Exciting day for Parksville Qualicum Beach as new $17 million Oceanside Health Centre opens

Today, the delivery of health care in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region takes a positive step with the opening of the Oceanside Health Centre.

There are some who still believe we need a full-on hospital, or at least some version of hospital-lite. They point to our demographics, saying it makes sense to have a hospital in the region that’s home to the oldest people in the country.

Everyone in our region — from Nanoose Bay to Coombs to Deep Bay — is within a 45-minute drive of a hospital, whether it be Nanaimo, Port Alberni or Comox. We get winter, yes, but we don’t get a winter like most places in the country.

There are people who live in and around big Canadian cities that are home to multiple hospitals who face a 45-minute journey to an emergency room.

So, as unpopular a stance it may be with some, it’s difficult to seriously justify the construction and operation of a full-service hospital in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

That stated, the status quo wasn’t going to work either. Our demographics do make us special, and we needed something better than a walk-in clinic, something closer to home to stabilize the serious cases, set a broken arm, stitch a cut. Not only does the construction and operation of some gap-closing facility make sense for the people of this area, it should also take some pressure off nearby emergency rooms, especially in Nanaimo.

We should find out today (the public can tour the new health centre starting at 2:45 p.m.) more about exactly what the OHC offers, or when it is expected to offer more. We have serious questions about what services are available compared to what services were promised.

A building loaded with VIHA administration does nothing to help the people of the area or take the pressure off nearby hospitals. Please see Tuesday’s edition of The NEWS, and check our website before that (pqbnews.com), where we hope to provide more concrete information about the exact level of service that’s going to be provided at this new facility.

Today, we think with gratitude of those who pushed hard to improve health care delivery in our region, especially Tom Davies and former MLA Ron Cantelon. Now, let’s see what we have.

— Editorial by John Harding