B.C. government continues health-care spending with new Cowichan Valley hospital

Premier John Horgan has announced the next step for a new hospital in the Cowichan Valley. Chad Hipolito/CP

The B.C. government continues its health-care spending spree. The province announced on Friday a concept plan has been approved for a new hospital in the Cowichan Valley.

“People who live in the Cowichan Valley have waited a long time for the hospital they deserve, and that wait will soon be over,” said Premier John Horgan. “The new hospital we’re announcing today will serve people in the valley for decades to come, meaning better health care in their own backyard.”

READ MORE: B.C. to eliminate rid of age restrictions covering insulin pump costs

The province is hoping to start construction on the new hospital in 2021 and is planning on making the new facility three times the size of the existing hospital. The target date to have the doors open is 2024.

The existing Cowichan District Hospital was opened in 1967 and has 134 beds. Since the hospital opened, the Cowichan Valley’s population has more than doubled.

Story continues below advertisement

The province does not have any cost numbers but says it has been allocated for in the existing capital budget.

READ MORE: B.C. doctors no longer allowed to bill for extra fees starting Oct. 1

“Cowichan District Hospital is 50 years old. The capacity issues it faces on a daily basis are frustrating for patients and the hospital’s dedicated health-care workers. It was critical that we take action,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “We received a concept plan, and approved it within months, so work could get going as soon as possible, and people could have a new hospital.”

WATCH HERE: More help coming for B.C. caregivers

Click to play video: 'More help coming for B.C. caregivers'
More help coming for B.C. caregivers

Earlier this week, Dix announced a new hospital in Dawson Creek. The province has also been quickly making changes to the health-care system including opening primary care centres, increasing MRI procedures and reducing wait times for knee and hip replacements.

Story continues below advertisement

The province has also announced the recruitment of 200 family doctors and 200 nurse practitioners. Currently, more than 700,000 British Columbians don’t have access to a family doctor.

READ MORE: Changes to health care system continue with addition of clinical pharmacists

“We have been moving quickly. Adrian has been going at a great pace to bring forward a whole lot of health changes. Bringing forward the primary health network to connect health-care providers from docs to health-care practitioners to therapists to everyone in between,” said Horgan. “Expectations for health outcomes are increasing, our ability to deliver [on those expectations] are decreasing because we are not training enough people.”

One of the challenges the government is currently facing is an aging population. The Cowichan Valley is one of the fastest growing, and aging, in the province. The new hospital will include 60 additional beds as well as a psychiatric component.

“Our population is growing and aging over and above the other parts of Island Health. This has resulted in high rates of alternate care, which ties up medical beds and puts the hospital in overcapacity on most days,” said local patient advocate Linda Zabok.


Sponsored content