VIHA responds to concerns

Mayor Bev Parnham met with members of the VIHA this week to discuss Island Health's response to her letter.

PORT HARDY—Mayor Bev Parnham met with members of the Vancouver Island Health Authority last week to discuss Island Health’s response to her letter questioning its commitment to an integrated care facility in the town.

“I’m really pleased they’re going to come speak to us,” said the mayor last week. “Hopefully they’ve heard our concerns and will move forward expeditiously.”

As part of its recommendations to Island Health (formerly Vancouver Island Health Authority), the Local Working Group asked  the health authority to establish the unit to facilitate a new health-care model in the town. The LWG’s report saw the vision of an integrated care facility as “mission critical” to the future of health care in the region, aiding in the recruitment and retention of physicians and forming the basis for improved patient care.

Initially Island Health was wholeheartedly behind the proposition and the facility was earmarked for construction beginning in 2014. In recent meetings however, progress seemed to slow and Island Health representatives appeared to suggest that the envisioned model could be implemented independent of a new structure.

A strongly worded letter from the mayor, dated Aug. 27, took the VIHA Board to task on this suggestion and called for the Board to reaffirm its commitment to the initial vision.

“VIHA Board members, please do not forget that the delivery of health care services to the rural and remote communities within the VIHA region is equally as important as it is to larger communities to the south,” read the letter. “Your own vision statement confirms this: ‘Excellent care for everyone, everywhere, every time’. Please live up to it.”

Prior to the meeting between the mayor and VIHA representatives it seemed that the letter had hit home as Island Health posted a Notice of Intent to negotiate for a primary care site to BCBid.

The NOI states that Island Health intends to purchase the property at 7090 Thunderbird Way — the existing Port Hardy Medical Clinic — along with space for an addition.

“The purchase will support Island Health’s efforts to attract new primary care physicians and to integrate them with existing primary care physicians and nurse practitioners into one facility,” read a release from Island Health.

The mayor welcomed the announcement: “I really was questioning their commitment in the letter. I get a sense now that we’re back on track.”