Foster pushes for beds

Vernon-Monashee’s MLA insists hospital overcrowding is not being ignored.

Health care professionals have launched a campaign asking residents to wear purple ribbons to create awareness about conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“It’s high on my priority list — it’s perhaps the highest,” said MLA Eric Foster.

“I am doing everything possible to find more space for beds.”

There are 148 funded acute-care beds at VJH  but the number of actual patients can reach 160 to 170 patients admitted. One day this year, there were 192.

Physicians claim that congestion will continue even once the new patient care tower opens in September and there are no beds in the expanded area.

They are demanding that immediate funding be committed for two shelled-in floors that are designated for possible future acute care use.

Foster says that developing the two floors is an option, as is using space in the existing hospital that will be vacated when some departments move to the tower.

However, he says the government must look at its financial situation.

“There’s not just the capital costs. There are also operating costs,” he said.

The Interior Health Authority indicates it could cost about $10 million to develop each of the shelled-in floors for use by patients, and then $10 million each annually to operate the floors.

Foster doesn’t have any concerns about the health care providers’ actions.

“They want to make sure everyone is aware of the issue,” he said.

“But it’s a case of trying to balance everything and there’s limited money.”