Doctors frustrated by lack of progress

Letters

Editor:

As the lead physician on the Residential Care Committee of the Sunshine Coast Divisions of Family Practice, I wish to convey our physicians’ frustration with the lack of progress in addressing the critical shortage of publicly funded long-term residential care beds on the Sunshine Coast.

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As we have previously stated, the Sunshine Coast lags far behind the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority average number for such beds. This results in constant overcrowding at our hospital as acute care beds are occupied by long-term care patients awaiting placement. Working conditions and patient care on the acute care wards and in the emergency department at Sechelt Hospital are being compromised on a daily basis due to this overcrowding.

Over a year ago VCH announced it had signed a contract with the Trellis Seniors Services to build a new, state of the art, publicly funded residential care facility (Silverstone) to replace two aging facilities (Totem Lodge and Shorncliffe Care Home) and at the same time provide 20 new additional residential care beds.

In November, we physicians publicly supported the Trellis contract as an initial first step toward meeting our long- term care bed requirements. As well, we encouraged VCH to move forward in a collaborative fashion to further address our bed shortages and to consider a repurposing of the Totem Lodge and Shorncliffe facilities to help address urgent needs in mental health and dementia care.

The initial Trellis plan was to locate the new facility in Sechelt. Recognizing the urgency of our bed requirements, Trellis has done what it can to make this happen as expeditiously as possible. Unfortunately, the District of Sechelt does not recognize this urgency and rather than deal with the Trellis proposal in a timely fashion has decided to explore the general requirements for residential care facilities in Sechelt and how this can be incorporated into its official community plan. This process will result in additional, unacceptable and lengthy delays in addressing the immediate need for more long-term residential care beds on the Sunshine Coast.

As per its letter to Sechelt Mayor and Council on June 7, Trellis Seniors Services is “open to all options” and we understand they are now looking at other locations on the Sunshine Coast to build the new long-term care facility. We encourage Vancouver Coastal Health and indeed our entire community to support Trellis in this endeavour. As well, we encourage VCH to continue to work with our community to develop plans for the repurposing of Totem Lodge and Shorncliffe and to explore additional options to meet our future long-term bed requirements.

Jim Petzold, MD, Roberts Creek

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