Overcrowding clouds opening

Celebrations at Vernon Jubilee Hospital were overshadowed by a perceived crisis in care.

Celebrations at Vernon Jubilee Hospital were overshadowed by a perceived crisis in care.

Health Minister Michael de Jong couldn’t avoid the issue of overcrowding as he officially opened the new $180 million Polson tower Thursday.

“You have made it clear that there are capacity issues and we are working to try and address them,” he told a crowd that included nurses, doctors and residents who have been lobbying for acute care beds.

“Your MLA and the government are aware of the challenge and we will do everything we can to address the challenge.”

VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but on average, there are 164 patients daily.  As a result, patients have been placed in hallways and surgeries have been cancelled.

De Jong pointed out that finances are tight for the government, and he suggested that an announcement on completing the two shelled-in floors for beds may wait until early in 2012.

“You have ensured in the near future that I will be coming back,” he said, referring to rallies, letters  and petitions.

De Jong’s comments didn’t go over well with some in the crowd.

“I’m not sure how much longer nurses can continue to work under these conditions,” said B.C., Nurses Union representative Christine Sorensen of patients being placed in halls and cancelled surgeries.

“The facility is already over-capacity and we still have to wait more months.”

Darrel Stinson, a former MP who spoke at a recent rally demanding beds, was upset de Jong didn’t guarantee funding Thursday.

“It’s the same old crap. They have places they can take the funds from,” said Stinson.

“They’re not too concerned about what’s going on here.”

The 16,815-square-metre Polson tower began accepting patients Sept. 25. It includes intensive and coronary care, ambulatory and outpatient clinics, new ambulance space, central sterilization and women’s and children’s services.

“This building is impressive but the building is ultimately a collection of material,” said de Jong. “The heart and soul of the building are the people who work in it. It’s them who give the hospital the unique place in the hearts of the people of this region.”

Among the dignitaries at Thursday ceremony were Martin and Mary Niedballa, the parents of Amelia, the first baby born in the tower.

Mary’s due date coincided with moving day into the tower. During routine visits to VJH, Mary kept an eye on a digital clock that did the official countdown until the tower opened.

“Every time I saw it, it was for my baby,” she said of the possibility of delivering in the structure. “The nurses were really tremendous and I want to thank them for making the transition smooth.”

 

 

Just Posted

Vernon columnist seeks stories for potential book

Carole Fawcett of The Morning Star’s Boomer Talk column wants to hear from boomers and seniors

North Okanagan Knights split with Summerland

Each team record KIJHL victories on home ice in weekend home-and-home series

Vernon Vipers avenge mid-week loss to Chilliwack

Vipers roll to 4-1 BC Hockey League victory Saturday on home ice

Grey, damp, warm week ahead in Okanagan, Shuswap, Columbia

Environment Canada calling for clouds and showers, and warm temperatures, throughout the area

North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates respond

What would you and your party do to promote inclusivity and political consensus in the country?

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Boats once plied Okanagan Lake

Lake was used as transportation corridor connecting communities in the valley

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

Most Read