Taking the time to ponder St. Joe’s future

Extended care beds at The Views will continue to offer great views even after a new Comox Valley hospital is built. - Photo by Renée Andor
Extended care beds at The Views will continue to offer great views even after a new Comox Valley hospital is built.
— image credit: Photo by Renée Andor

St. Joseph’s General Hospital looks forward to realizing its new role in the Valley once VIHA’s new hospital opens, according to president and CEO Jane Murphy.

Now that property at North Island College (2300 Ryan Road) has been announced as the chosen site for the new Comox Valley Hospital, Murphy said discussions surrounding the future of St. Joe’s are picking up speed — and she’s excited about what its future role may be.

“Lots of people have lots of ideas, which is really exciting, and over the next months and years, to have discussion and dialogue and form a plan around that, and talk to funding agencies, is all part of the work we’ll be doing,” said Murphy.

St. Joseph’s is owned and operated by the Diocese of Victoria through an affiliation with the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Acute-care services at St. Joe’s are expected to transfer to to the new hospital in 2017, which is the target completion date.

And having this time to explore possibilities for the St. Joe’s site is a good thing, according to Murphy.

“We do have the time, which is very nice, to step back and really understand the needs of the community,” Murphy said, adding there will be opportunity for community input during the decision process.

“It really is about starting to look at the community and the demographics and the healthcare needs and start to identify potentially other roles that could be met by this site, because really there’s quite an infrastructure on this site.”

Services related to seniors’ care are a need in the community now and in the future, according to Murphy, and more residential beds and various support services to help seniors are potential uses of the space.

There is “a whole continuum of services that our seniors need to support them, and some of it is day programs, some of it is residential care, a need for more respite care, bathing programs, it’s really a whole range of services, but certainly beds, residential care beds, yes, there will be a need,” said Murphy, adding these are just ideas right now and nothing is decided.

Murphy noted VIHA is updating its residential bed plan for Vancouver Island, which should give a good idea of how many VIHA-funded residential beds are planned for the Valley in the future.

While she acknowledged St. Joe’s is waiting for word on this number, she said the hospital is proactively planning so it’s ready to submit a proposal if it decides to when VIHA wants to contract for these services.

The 125 residential beds at the Views — Eagleview Manor and Oceanview Manor — will remain on-site, and renovations will be considered as part of the overall redevelopment of the St. Joe’s site.

“One of the objectives would be to create more single rooms, which is becoming more of the standard, and that is something that we very much would look at,” Murphy added.

And St. Joe’s will continue in its partnership with the Comox Valley Hospice Society to add a 10-bed hospice/palliative care residence to the Views.

Murphy also said the transitional care unit of the hospital, which serves patients who are either returning home or moving into residential care, could be kept, though again, this idea is just something that’s being talked about around the hospital.

“That’s a type of service that, you know, can be provided very well associated with residential care, so (there’s) potential to look at that as remaining on-site and becoming part of a range of services here at St. Joseph’s,” she explained.

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