No firm funding as VJH congestion climbs

Finance minister Kevin Falcon's B.C. budget has increased health care funding, but no reference to more beds at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

Overcrowding continues at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, but it’s unknown if there’s any provincial cash to alleviate conditions.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon released B.C.’s new budget Tuesday and while there is increased funding for the overall health care system, there was no particular reference to more acute care beds at VJH.

“The hospital hit the 193 in-patient mark Tuesday, one over the old record of 192,” said Dr. Michael Concannon, an emergency room physician.

“It’s kind of ironic that VJH hit this record on budget day.”

Physicians, nurses and the public have been lobbying for the upper two floors in the Polson tower to be completed to ease congestion.

Until that occurs, Concannon says patients will continue to be placed in halls and surgeries will be cancelled.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, says while there was no specific mention of VJH in the budget, he believes there could be money directed towards acute care beds.

“I’m optimistic. There’s a fairly large capital funding envelope for health care, eduction and transportation,” he said.

Foster’s next step will be to meet with Health Minister Michael de Jong to discuss VJH’s needs further.

“If there was no money, I suggest I would have heard that already,” he said.

Foster wasn’t surprised that the province’s financial plan didn’t highlight VJH.

“Generally there aren’t specific projects mentioned in a budget.”