Hospital beds

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster's original assessment of needs at Vernon Jubilee Hospital flawed

“MLA maintains pressure for beds.” I read this article with interest then I realized that our MLA is talking about my tax dollars. My interest, soon became disappointment, followed closely by, “is this for real.”

All summer, Eric Foster has been an advocate to complete the two top floors of the tower. The cost quoted has been $10 million for each floor and an annual operating cost of $10 million per floor. Total cost to the tax payer is $20 million with an additional $20 million annually.

I have always been concerned about the decision, to complete the two top floors of the tower. Yes, we have a bed shortage, and yes emergency is a bottleneck. But no one has made it clear to us whether we have a shortage of acute care beds or whether we actually have too many patients who should be in extended care facilities who are occupying acute care beds. If the latter is true, we should be investing in extended care facilities rather than in hospital beds. This would allow us to move patients out of the hospital, hence freeing up hospital beds. I certainly have no way to determine which scenario fits, so I must rely on our elected representative to make a careful analysis of the situation before advocating for tax dollars. Apparently, Mr. Foster’s careful analysis determined that we needed to complete the two top floors of the tower and the cost would be $20 million.

However, the minister of health has deemed that funds will not be awarded to complete the two top floors and what now follows is very disconcerting, because, the initial analysis is in the garbage and Mr. Foster has determined that $10 million will do just fine. Should I believe this is the final assessment or does Mr. Foster have plan C in the background? Maybe we can make do with considerably less.

The question: Previously, we absolutely needed $20 million and now we can make do with $10 million? If the minister of health cannot find $10 million, it makes one wonder if we could get by with $1 million? Mr. Foster, how can you have any credibility in the legislature when you keep changing the target? If you have done your homework and identified the absolute needs for Vernon Jubilee Hospital, then you need to stand behind your original assessment. The only reason to back down, and accept less, is if your original needs assessment is flawed.

Janet Green, Lumby



Vernon Morning Star