Comox Valley hospital operating above patient capacity

The new healthcare facility averaged a 110 per cent patient volume between October and February

Six months after first opening its doors, the North Island Hospital Comox Valley campus is still operating above its patient capacity.

The $332-million facility has a capacity of 129 care beds, with a further 24 beds that can be phased in.

But due to the high demand for healthcare in the Valley, the new hospital has regularly experienced an overflow of patients since it opened.

According to Island Health, the average patient occupancy at Courtenay’s new hospital between mid-October and the end of January was 110 per cent.

A statement from Island Health on March 22 recognizes the hospital’s high patient volumes are due to “a variety of factors,” including seasonal illness, the Valley’s aging population causing a higher demand for acute care services, and the impact of moving into a new and larger facility.

“It should be noted that over-capacity is not unique to the North Island Hospital. In fact, hospitals across Island Health and throughout North America experience over-capacity,” reads the statement, adding that patient occupancy fluctuates throughout the day.

“When these surges in patient volumes occur, temporary overflow patient care areas are opened and all patients are cared for in appropriate care spaces and with appropriate staffing levels.”

Teething problems

The hospital held its soft opening in early October when patients from St. Joseph’s General Hospital were transferred to the new facility. It has been fully open to residents since November.

In January, a Comox Valley-based blog, Decafnation, reported on a series of problems plaguing the new hospital, including capacity issues, low staff morale, and design and planning flaws.

Read More: Health Ministry receives complaint from patient regarding new Comox Valley hospital

Tom Sparrow, the project manager for the $606-million North Island Hospital project, was asked about the hospital’s rocky opening by directors at a Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board meeting in mid-January.

“I don’t think we can just sit back and allow this to fester within the Valley,” said one of the directors.

Sparrow replied that “work is in progress” to mitigate deficiencies at the new hospitals in Courtenay and Campbell River.

“These are big facilities,” he said at the meeting. “You don’t turn these things on and everyone is 100 per cent satisfied on day one.”

Island Health released a lengthy statement in early February acknowledging there were some transitional problems associated with the roll-out of the two new facilities.

“Planning, construction and the opening of the North Island Hospital campuses was a huge undertaking,” reads part of the statement.

“With the transition comes new clinical and administrative processes and new, larger modern facilities built to current health care delivery standards. [It makes] this one of the largest initiatives that Island Health, our staff, and physician partners have been involved in.”

The statement also claimed a number of measures are underway to alleviate capacity issues, including ensuring appropriate staffing levels, enhancing community supports to prevent hospital admission when possible, and increasing home care visits.

“…I think you’re going to see a lot of these issues disappear as time goes on,” said Sparrow.

The Island Health board will hold its monthly meeting in Courtenay on Thursday, March 29. The meeting is open to the public and takes place from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Crown Isle Resort ballroom.

The new hospital’s capacity issues, as well as other concerns like the ongoing lack of a certified helipad and the Comox Valley’s shortage of long-term care beds, will likely be points of interest.

Read More: Comox Valley hospital officially opens; helipad not yet certified

Read More: Island Health issues new RFP for 120 long-term care beds in the Comox Valley

Just Posted

Remember Spunky? Santa came out to Sidney to check on him

Red-tailed Hawk made headlines last year after being stolen, raised by eagles

MISSING: 59-year-old Pamela Fletcher

Fletcher was last seen in the area near Royal Jubilee Hospital on Dec. 10

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to keep them in the loop

Call the hotlines for concerns on local provincial highways

Hockey gear stolen from visiting team in Victoria

Banff midget team reported missing equipment on Dec. 14

Custom motorcycle and wood cutter stolen from Sooke motorcycle shop

2006 Husqvarna motorcycle and 2-ton log splitter taken from outbuilding

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

POLL: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

The rain Vancouver Island is famous for is coming down in buckets,… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 11, 2018

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Woman guilty of impaired driving in death of Vancouver Island pedestrian

Man in his 70s killed in 2016 Courtenay multi-vehicle incident

Most Read