Island Health has issued a new request for proposals for 120 long-term complex care beds within the Comox Valley.
This replaces the 70-bed RFP originally posted in September of 2016, which was eliminated in August of 2017.
“Ensuring high quality, publicly-funded safe and caring homes for seniors is a priority of our government,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix, in a statement. “A commitment was made to increase overall residential care space in the Comox Valley. Moving forward with this RFP presents an opportunity to explore more flexible models of care in our communities – care that meets the needs of those living with dementia and individuals requiring assistance with complex health issues and includes options for palliative care and medical assistance in dying (MAiD).”
The MAiD issue has been contentious in the Comox Valley for some time.
When the province announced two new hospice beds for the Comox Valley, in January of 2017, proponents of MAiD lobbied against those beds being added to the four existing beds at The Views at St. Joseph’s, based on the publicly-funded institution’s refusal to accommodate MAiD on site.
In June of 2017, Island Health announced that it would be moving the four hospice beds at The Views off of the Catholic property, to a secular facility that allows MAiD.
The pro-MAiD faction also lobbied against the impending St. Joseph/Providence Health Care partnership being awarded the original long-term RFP, based on the same arguments.
(St. Joseph and Providence announced a partnership in 2017. Providence Health Care is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization with a 123-year history of providing care, research and teaching in B.C.)
While Island Health director of residential services, Tim Orr, did not name MAiD specifically, he said the hospice situation played a role in the cancellation of the original RFP.
“A number of things came to light,” said Orr, in an interview with the Comox Valley Record. “There were some community concerns about the hospice beds. There were a number of concerns just about the capacity that we needed in the Valley and we just felt that new information that came up during the evaluation process… changed [the needs] enough that the right thing to do was recall that [RFP], rethink what was needed, and re-issue.”
The original RFP had no contingency for hospice.
“When the original [Sept. 2016] RFP went out, it was not contemplating hospice beds,” said Orr.
The new RFP has been set up to possibly facilitate both the pro-MAiD faction, and the St. Joe’s/Providence partnership.
The terms of the new RFP allow Island Health to choose multiple proponents, as long as MAiD is an available option with at least one successful proposal. The proponent(s) allowing MaiD will be home to all six hospice beds.
The RFP is open to all non-profit, for-profit, denominational, and non-denominational providers.
The RFP will consider proposals for new developments as well as the redevelopment of existing facilities.
This opens the door for the St. Joseph/Providence facility to bid on the new RFP, without compromising its stance on MAiD.
Orr denied that the new RFP has been shaped in a way to specifically accommodate any particular potential partner.
“It’s [the new RFP] being done to ensure that we get as many options to consider as possible,” he said.
All submissions will be subject to a comprehensive and detailed evaluation process based on the criteria set out in the RFP, in accordance with Island Health’s Fair Business Practices. The RFP evaluation process will determine the number of successful proponents and the number of complex care beds that will be awarded to each proponent, based on their submissions.
The RFP is posted on the BC Bid website and proposals are being accepted until May 11, 2018. Should the RFP process be successful, Island Health is optimistic the new beds will be ready for occupancy in 2020.
The original 70-bed RFP had a target date of early summer, 2019.