MLA maintains pressure for beds

Senior government officials are being urged to ease overcrowding at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Senior government officials are being urged to ease overcrowding at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, was expected to meet with Finance Minister Kevin Falcon late Thursday or early today to discuss the need for more acute care beds at VJH.

“I’m not letting this go to the back-burner,” said Foster.

“I’m going to remind them of how important this issue is to our area.”

VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but on average, there has been 164 patients daily.  At times that has led to patients in hallways and surgeries cancelled.

Health care workers, civic leaders and residents have been lobbying the government to develop two shelled-in floors in the new tower as a way of expanding the number of beds.

Foster recently met with doctors and VJH administration to prepare his case for Falcon.

“We’ve been sharpening up the operational numbers,” said Foster.

It’s been previously suggested that it could cost $20 million annually to operate the floors, but Foster says all figures are being considered and there is no guarantee two floors will be opened together.

“Two floors would be great but the (patient) numbers show we need one floor right now,” he said, adding that vacant space in the old part of VJH could also be utilized for beds.

“With the finances the way they are, one floor would be a big win.”

Constructing the floors is projected to cost about $10 million each.

Health Minister Michael de Jong has indicated that a decision on beds may not occur until early 2012, and Foster says he is pushing for an announcement as soon as possible.

“If I could, I’d love to have it today. We need some certainty,” he said, adding that the government isn’t avoiding conditions at VJH but it has to consider the broad financial situation facing the province.

“The finance minister, the health minister and the premier get it. This is not a dodge. They know this is my No. 1 priority,” he said.



Vernon Morning Star

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