B.C.’s health minister announced Monday morning the creation of 495 new long-term care beds in the Interior Health region.
“This is significant,” Adrian Dix said.
Kelowna will acquire 140 new beds, 90 new beds will be created in Vernon, 90 in Penticton, 100 in Kamloops and 75 in Nelson.
“We’re going to be announcing today the request for proposals for those beds, those proposals will come forward in the fall and an announcement from the successful proponents will be made in December,” Dix said.
There are currently about 6,000 long-term care beds across the Interior Health region.
“We looked at many factors when determining where to locate these projects, including population projections, wait times for admissions, the complexity of people needing care, as well as local and regional demographics,” said Susan Brown, Interior Health CEO and president.
Dix said all of the new beds will be single rooms.
“We have a growing seniors population,” Dix said. “Just to give an example of that, in Interior Health there are going to be 28 per cent more people over 75 in five years than there are today. That is a substantial, enormous increase in the number of people over 75.”
Dix said the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the vulnerability of people living in long-term care.
He added it has drawn more attention to improving standards.
“We’re going to see significant improvements in care,” he said. “We need to address the issue of long-term care. We’re doing it by providing staffing, improving standards, improving working conditions and across British Columbia increasing the number of beds.
According to Dix, the construction on the new beds and units in all five communities will begin early next year.