March 27, 2013 - 12:29 PM
By Charlotte Helston
There's widespread agreement that Vernon Jubilee Hospital needs an upgrade, but Vernon politicians worry not enough is being done by a government approved project to combat overcrowding.
It was with some reservations at a Tuesday meeting the North Okanagan-Columbia-Shuswap Hospital District board voted to provide $5.5 million to finish VJH's Polson tower.
The completion of the tower's top two floors will include adding 14 new beds and relocating a further 46 from elsewhere in the hospital to create more single and double rooms.
"I was surprised we had as many four-bed rooms as we do," director Rob Sawatzky, a former physician, says. "That's not the standard anymore."
Sawatzky says more people to a room increases the risk of diseases spreading and reduces the quality of care. Rearranging the hospital's existing beds will remedy that problem, but there are other concerns.
"We simply need more beds."
Overcrowding has long been an issue at the hospital, and Sawatzky is concerned 14 new beds just aren't enough.
"From what I hear, it's horrendous in there," Sawatzky says, adding the towers have a much greater capacity for beds. He hazarded a guess that 60 new beds could fit.
"I understand that health care is expensive, and 14 is what we're getting."
Director Juliette Cunningham agrees rearranging existing beds is a necessary task, but she also wonders how demand is going to be met with the modest increase.
"It's a great facility, but people are surprised we're only netting out 14 new beds. They were expecting much more," Cunningham says.
"It sounds great in theory, but we already have overcrowding."
Cunningham says more needs to be done to ease up pressures at the hospital. "We're working hard on integrating health care options for seniors so they don't have to take up beds in acute care," she says, adding individuals with mental health and addictions issues could also find help outside the hospital's doors.
The remainder of the funding for the $29.6 million project will come from the province. The hospital itself is contributing $2.5 million.
Interior Health is currently seeking contractors and construction is anticipated late this year.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com or call (250)309-5230.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013