Photo by George Le Masurier
No word yet on the promised new long-term care beds
BY GEORGE LE MASURIER
As a strike by care workers at two Comox Valley assisted living facilities enters its sixth day, many people are wondering what happened to the 151 additional long-term care beds promised by Island Health last year?
The critical shortage of long-term care and respite beds in the Comox Valley continues to cause problems for at home caregivers, many of whom are exhausted and in crisis. And it causes overcapacity issues at the Comox Valley Hospital, where patient s who need long-term care are stuck in acute care beds.
The contract award for new beds is already three months late and, according to an Island Health spokesperson, no announcement is imminent.
Island Health issued a Request for Proposal for 70 new long-term care beds over three years ago, but cancelled it a year later, and issued a new RFP this year. The health authority said it would award contracts by Aug. 31 of this year.
When it missed that deadline, Island Health said the contracts would be announced later in the fall. Now, three months later, the contracts have still not been awarded.
Asked what is holding up the awarding of contracts, Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton said, “Awarding a long-term care contract is a complex, multi-stage process. We want to ensure we are thoughtful in our decision because this facility will serve the community for decades to come.”
Island Health could give no date when the awards would be announced.
“We understand the community needs these additional resources and is anxious to learn when the contract will be awarded. We will be able share more details with the community once a project development agreement is finalized with a proponent,” she said. “We don’t have a firm date, but we will let you know as soon as we can.”
Burton said Island Health still pins the timeline for opening the new long term care beds at 2020.
In the meantime, 21 long-term care patients were relocated back to the former St. Joe’s Hospital, which reopened and renovated its third floor to create an additional and temporary long-term care facility. St. Joe’s already operates The Views for about 120 long-term patients. The new facility in the old hospital is called Mountain View.
The move was planned in part to relieve overcapacity issue at the Comox Valley Hospital.