All is not well at the Hospital.

The diagnosis is in; VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority) has a bad case of secretiveness.

Doctors who spoke up last week against what they said was lying on VIHA's
part, about plans for the new hospital, have now back peddled.

Maybe 'lied to' is a bit strong as we can't prove it is done
intentionally and we should say we were misled." said Dr. Tabarsi, who was
initially cited by VIHA as being one individual calling them to task. Since
then four more physicians have spoken up to the Courier Islander about their
concerns.

³There is no question that we were told many times that the plan is just to
secure the funding. We were never told that the total square footage of the
entire plan is fixed. said another physician. We cannot claim they lied to
us, but we can clearly accuse them of absolutely failing to be transparent
and open in their discussions and planning, despite any claims they may make
to the contrary.

The physicians insist that VIHA has completely failed to clearly and
transparently itemize exactly how they define and what they mean by all
acute care services. This is despite many meetings, correspondence and
complaints by the physicians over more than 2 years.

And they continually failed to do this in the face of major complaints and
direct questions asked by us, especially when their actions appeared to be
directed to achieve an outcome completely opposite to that which their
guarantee would appear to promise. said the group.

We were not told that there would be no cafeteria in the hospital. we were
not told that there would be no meeting room / lunch rooms in both radiology
and laboratory.said Tabarsi. In the next stage of the planning, we had to
cut a lot of corners and make sacrifices to settle for a very small and
inadequate meeting room / lunch rooms.
Pharmacy is another example that in the original plan was totally ignored
and the space had to be taken from somewhere else to rectify the problem.
The list can go on.

The clearest example of this, said one physician, is VIHA's concerted,
continuous and vigorous attempts² to both downgrade the laboratory services
and drive the pathologist away. ³This latter claim is not an exaggeration
but I believe the only rational explanation for their course of action,
especially for an organization which touts its commitment to co-operation
and optimizing workplace functioning or whatever their current mission
statement claims. said another physician.

Despite vigorous complaints by all of us, the process continued unabated
and when we repeatedly asked for clarification and an explanation for this
discrepancy, we were completely stonewalled by the senior administrators,
both physician and administrative. The only answer we have ever had to these
frank and directed questions was that we had to start thinking of these
specialty services as regional services.

The physicians state that the business plan that was accepted had two parts.
One involved the building of two new separate hospital buildings, one in
each community.
All the focus was, I believe intentionally on VIHA's part and by default on
the community leaders part, focused on this. said one physician.

The second component of the plan is that both hospitals and their medical
staffs will be part of one hospital administrative structure, and despite
vigorous complaints by the physicians, they say this still remains in force
as part of the accepted plan,

It is very easy to see how this combination of thinking of all specialty
services as a regional service, with the concept that we will all be one
hospital and medical staff with two campuses.² one physician said. They can
move any specialty service to Comox and by virtue of us all being one
hospital, the Campbell River hospital as the north wing or north annex of
the Comox Valley hospital if you will, that VIHA can promise that Campbell
River Hospital, can and will keep all its specialty services , at the same
time they center any or all of these services in Comox. This has been a
clearly and repeatedly expressed concern by the Campbell River physicians
that VIHA ha been singularly unwilling to clarify.

Toni O'keefe, Vice President Communications and Public Relations for the
Vancouver Island Health Authority, said "The relationship VIHA has with our
partner physicians is an important one. We value their input and we have
been committed to clinical consultation since this project began. We have
met with this group in the past, they do not represent  the larger community
of physicians in the North Island. If this small group of physicians have
specific questions for VIHA, we would be happy to meet with them again if
they are still seeking clarity on some items."

For the public to have their concerns heard, the physicians have asked that
people contact the Chair of VIHA and the Regional Hospital Board;
Don Hubbard at 250-370-8693 or Don.Hubbard@shaw.ca and Comox Strathcona
Regional Hospital District at administration@comoxvalleyrd.ca

Public forums on the two hospitals continue to take place, visit www.viha.ca
for more information.

sthomson@courierislander.com


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