Pressure on the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s emergency department is expected to ease next year when Oceanside Health Centre opens in June.
An estimated 45,000 people in the Parksville-Qualicum area will access care at the centre, relieving demand on other hospital emergency departments, such as NRGH, West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni and St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox Valley.
In 2010, about 10,000 people from the Oceanside area accessed emergency care at one of the three hospitals, with the majority visiting NRGH.
Sheila Cruikshank, Vancouver Island Health Auhority spokeswoman, said patients with life-threatening conditions will still need to access hospital ERs, but an estimated 8,000 patients with non-life-threatening conditions will receive treatment at the centre instead.
“They go to the emergency because there is no other access point for urgent care,” said Cruikshank.
There is also a large tourist influx in the summer months to the area, but Cruiksank said there aren’t estimates on how many will access Oceanside instead of other health facilities.
Ron Cantelon, Parksville-Qualicum Liberal MLA, said the centre will have a significant impact. He’s supported the creation of the centre since its inception.
“It’s very gratifying,” said Cantelon, about seeing the project begin construction.
He said the Oceanside Residents Association was a big part of the process in creating a plan for the centre. The association gave input about the unique needs of the community and pushed hard to become part of the process, said Cantelon.
Oceanside is a two-storey 3,640 square metre building with an estimated $15.79 million construction cost, slated to open in June, 2013. It’s located in Parksville on the corner of the Alberni Highway and Despard Avenue.
It will offer urgent care 15 hours per day from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. seven days a week. Urgent care situation include lacerations, acute pain, infections and allergic reactions and shortness of breath.
It will also serve as a primary care access point with ten health care providers including physicians, nurse practitioners and other staff. VIHA is moving all of its Oceanside services into the building so people can access them in one location. Those services include home and community care, mental health and addition, health promotion and public health programs, telehealth services and specialist’s services. It will also house an onsite laboratory and medical imaging equipment, including x-ray and ultrasound equipment.
Cruikshank said the centre will also use electronic health records, which will allow doctors to access up to date information. The electronic records will save costs on the Island because patients travelling to other locations for appointments or emergency care such as NRGH won’t have repeated tests ordered.
“This will have a significant benefit,” said Cruikshank, adding it’s an efficient model linking all Island communities.
For more information on the Oceanside Health Centre please go to www.viha.ca.