Health accessibility a priority for all

The North Islanders deserve their own modern hospital.

Dear editor,

So, the hospital site has been approved. Good!

It is the difference of opinion that makes horse races, wrote Mark Twain. And differences there have been.

“I cannot any longer remain quiet about the subject of the new hospital,” writes Louise Jackson in a letter to the editor (Comox Valley Record, Dec. 5). An urge she shares with many previous writers. She makes excellent points, states her case convincingly.

But here is the rub: Every letter writer has. Two community hospitals or one large regional. Arguments favour either choice. The problem comes with all the extraneous stuff — site, distance, staffing, cost, accessibility, etc.

Ms. Jackson has another curve to throw – TWO regional hospitals, the second “easily accessible to the residents from up-island, and … located north of the river.” The Puntledge, presumably.

I could not agree more — but for the cost. Two regional hospitals located within 55 kms of each other? Costing a billion dollars at least to build with operational, maintenance and other annual expenses?

But she is right. The North Islanders deserve their own modern hospital. Comox Valleyites are simply selfish.

It is 250 kilometres for people in Courtenay to undergo surgery in Victoria. It is double that distance for the folks in Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Port Alice.

In fairness, any regional hospital should have been located nearer to Campbell River than to Courtenay. Thus, two community hospitals make good sense as far as timely access is concerned. And that ought be the main concern.

Stocking hospitals with staff is as much a question of desirability for doctors and nurses seeking the balm of Island lifestyles, as it is of a chronic shortage of competent personnel. The fault for which lies elsewhere.

In social democratic Scandinavia, general practitioners average 1,600 patients, and must accept patients living within 10 kms. In Denmark, for example, the 71 hospitals (2000 census) offer 3.7 beds per 1,000 persons, satisfying 90 per cent of the Danes.

Anyone thinks Canada, specifically British Columbia, can muster an equal percentage of contentedness?

In truth, I am not happy about the P3 option, either — public-private partnership — but let the hospital be built, let us rejoice in the current status, and let us hope no one gets sick.

Proximity to hospital is a priority for many patients — for ease of access and closeness to family and friends. Amen.

Finn Schultz-Lorentzen,

Courtenay

 

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