Newsletter – May 2010

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May 2010 Newsletter for Seniors on Vancouver Island

The following article was submitted to Seniors 101 by the Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Associations.
Roy Summerhayes.


There are 50,000 permanent residents in the Oceanside area of Vancouver Island which comprises communities from Deep Bay to Nanoose, including Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Errington, Coombs and Lasqueti Island. Our population is diverse and includes the oldest average age group of any postal codes in Canada. Our communities have 5,000 students and we typically welcome 500,000 visitors each year.

Unlike all other Vancouver Island regions of our size, we do not have a Health Centre that serves the unique health needs of our large population.

Over the past 20 years many health needs studies have been carried out in the Oceanside area. In 2001, a comprehensive study was completed with the participation of the general public, our health care professionals and the provincial health authority of the day. The recommendations of this study (Project Study – Part A of a Capital Plan for the Oceanside Health Centre in LHA 69: Qualicum) were supported and approved by the local mayors, the RDN chair, the MLA, Premier Gordon Campbell and his Minister of Health. However, these recommendations have never been implemented.

The Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Associations was established in 2009 (by five resident associations which grew to thirteen organizations), to advocate for a proper Oceanside Health Centre. With the slogan “We Need an Oceanside Health Centre–Do it Now!” the group presented a petition in the B.C. legislature with 6,000 signatures supporting a balance of appropriate health services based on the needs and demographics of our residents and visitors.

What does Oceanside need?

The Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Associations (FORA) supports the establishment of an Oceanside Health Centre, including the implementation of the full range of health care programs and services recommended in the 2001 Project Study as follows:

  1. Urgent Care – the treatment of unscheduled patients requiring care for unexpected illnesses and injuries except stroke, heart attack and major trauma. Ambulance personnel will require top level Advanced Life Support (ALS) training to deal with heart/stroke/trauma issues.
  2. Primary Care Program – a group of family physicians, nurses and support staff providing a wide range of care over extended hours of operation.
  3. Ambulatory Care – an extension of primary care to include skilled practitioners in such services as heart health, pulmonary & asthma, diabetes education, foot care, women’s health issues and hypertension.
  4. Diagnostic and Treatment – Clinics for palliative care, medical daycare, cancer program, minor procedures, visiting specialists, modern diagnostic radiology and on-site laboratory facilities.
  5. Inpatient services – a total of 45 beds for care provided by family physicians, short-stay assessment, convalescence and palliative care.

The Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Associations believes strongly that an Oceanside Health Centre will deliver a wide range of health services for less cost than sending our residents and visitors to Regional Hospitals – except when necessary to do so. It will also facilitate the recruitment and retention of local doctors, nurses and other health care professionals and, overall, is the most efficient and effective use of our tax dollars.

From the beginning FORA has met and continues to meet with stakeholders and decision makers at every opportunity to ensure their understanding of our community and our healthcare needs and to press for a timely completion of this initiative.

We are currently meeting bi-weekly with MLA Ron Cantelon, who provides a conduit to both VIHA and the B.C. Ministry of Health. Through his efforts we have met directly with Health Minister Kevin Falcon. We have also met with various VIHA officials at the planning and executive levels. There has been communication with MLA Scott Fraser of the Alberni Riding, part of which includes some of Oceanside, who has indicated his staunch support both in the Legislature and in local media.

Representatives of FORA have toured the Ladysmith and Chemainus Health Centres, and the James Bay Community Project. Later in June we will meet with Dr. Robert Burns, VIHA’s Acting Executive Medical Director, to press for more details on the vision of this health centre.

The closure date is June 5, 2010 for detailed proposals from the five interested parties, to be submitted in response to VIHA’s Request for Proposals. Representatives from FORA have met with two of the respondents, the Ahmon/Lark group based in Vancouver, and the local Arrowsmith Lodge.

We will continue to meet with all decision makers and stakeholders to ensure a timely and satisfactory end to what has been a very lengthy process. Please support our Federation in our pursuit of an Oceanside Health Centre. Contact municipal, provincial and federal governments to ask that they “Do it Now!”.

Submitted by the Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Associations (FORA).