On Monday August 19th, I sent an open letter to BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix calling for the expansion of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital to provide specialized services for the growing population of the central and north island region. Nanaimo's need for a full-fledged "tertiary hospital" that provides specialized services for patients with serious health challenges, including cancer, heart disease and kidney disease, was identified in 2017, as part of Island Health's five-year Priority Services Development Plan.
As MP, I am prepared to lobby for and support federal infrastructure funding applications once the B.C. government has decided to make the development of a tertiary hospital in Nanaimo a priority.
The current situation is extremely difficult for gravely ill patients and their families. Many central and north Island patients travel to the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria for radiation treatment, and spend weeks away from home. Cardiac patients who live north of the Malahat are frequently forced to travel to Victoria or Vancouver for procedures.
The 420,000 residents of central and north Vancouver island served by NRGH are already a greater number than the south island, where patients have access to a much broader range of facilities and healthcare professionals. The number of patients requiring complex care is also equal to the south island.
In addition to population growth, our demographics are shifting. The percentage of central and north island residents over the age of 75 is projected double by 2027. There is no doubt that acute care demand at NRGH will continue to increase. If you have visited the emergency department in recent years you are probably aware that it is already extremely busy.
The rising demand, and limited capacity to meet that demand, takes a toll on health care professionals, making it harder to recruit and retain the care teams we need in our region. It is crucial that the BC government respond to the identified need for a tertiary hospital at NRGH. I urged the minister to initiate the planning and development process to provide central and north island residents with the high level of care they deserve.
I would like to thank Dr. David Coupland, president of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Engagement Society, for meeting with me and providing me with the background and statistics around this important issue. Dr. Coupland gave a presentation on the need for a tertiary hospital at NRGH at the monthly Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce luncheon in August. Our local business community is very supportive of an expansion of services at NRGH, to serve our growing city and increasing regional population.
UPDATE: As of Sept. 10th, 2019 I have not received a response to my letter.