Labour Day rally calls for more beds

The call for more beds at Vernon Jubilee Hospital is ready to be heard loud and clear.

The call for more beds at Vernon Jubilee Hospital is ready to be heard loud and clear.

Everyone, from Revelstoke to the Shuswap and throughout the North Okanagan, is invited to attend a rally in the parking lot in front of the new VJH Polson Tower at noon Monday.

“Clogging, overcrowding, hallway medicine, delays, surgery cancellations will continue before and after the official opening of the tower due to the fact that no acute care beds are being provided in the new tower,” said Peter Hill, a local realtor organizing the rally.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster, who is hoping to attend the rally, has lobbied the health minister for completion of the two shelled-in floors in the new tower.

“We look at the number of people over limit we are and we’re trying to do what we can,” said Foster, who will be presented with the Purple Ribbon Campaign petition (which has more than 1,400 signatures) at the rally, if he can attend.

The new tower is scheduled to open Sept. 25, but does not include an increase in hospital beds. Meanwhile VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but on average there are 165 patients daily.

“We look forward to our government prioritizing this issue and taking the necessary steps to rectify an extremely critical situation at VJH,” said Hill.

It’s estimated that it could cost about $10 million to complete each of the shelled-in floors and then $10 million each annually to operate the floors (with 30 beds each).

Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick, former Okanagan Shuswap MP Darrel Stinson and a representative speaking on behalf of the doctors, nurses and staff at VJH are scheduled to attend the rally. Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert has also been invited to attend.

Jim Hart, former MP for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt, will be the master of ceremonies.

Meanwhile Shuswap MLA George Abbott, who is also B.C.’s Minister of Education and is dealing with teacher disputes following strike notice, will not be attending.

Health Minister Michael de Jong recently told The Morning Star that the situation at VJH is being reviewed.