A bigger, more modern psychiatric unit for Vernon Jubilee Hospital tops Interior Health CEO and president Chris Mazurkewich’s wish list.
It won’t happen for Christmas but Mazurkewich is determined to improve the unit at the hospital.
“It’s a high priority for us,” said Mazurkewich, joined by VJH Health Services Administrator Richard Harding for a tour of the hospital before answering media questions.
“It’s been on the books and we’re working our way through that process. I would love to see it come to fruition with expansion.”
Currently, there are approximately 19 psych beds, and Mazurkewich would like to see 50 to 70 per cent more beds.
When there are overflow patients for the psychiatric ward, they end up in a normal unit.
“Ideally, we’d like to have everyone in the psychiatric unit,” said Mazurkewich. “We’d like to get one that’s more modern. It’s quite an old facility, and standards have changed radically. So modernizing and expanding the unit would allow optimum treatment. I just wish I had an idea when that will happen.”
More psychiatric beds would be very helpful toward access and flow at VJH.
Mazurkewich said occupancy rates have come down as IH works on access and flow through the hospital by working with community services that enables the authority to start to admit patients that need to be admitted through the emergency department into the hospital quicker.
“We also look at the care you receive,” he said. “Do you need to be in hospital? Can we provide services in the community? Can you be discharged soon? All of those pieces come into play and it’s a complex situation as each individual is unique.”
Mazurkewich had special praise for a discharge program being used by VJH and local First Nations bands that is proving very successful, and also praised the hospital for its leadership role in getting ambulances back out in the street instead of sitting at facilities.
“We used to see a lot of ambulances backed up but through Vernon’s efforts, we’re rolling that out to other Interior Health communities that allow the ambulances to be on the street,” he said.