HomeNewsIsland & CoastAdvocates call on province to address healthcare north of the Malahat 

Advocates call on province to address healthcare north of the Malahat 

Healthcare advocates across Vancouver Island say the current system is out of proportion when it comes to ease of access for residents north of the Malahat. 

FairCare Alliance issued a report outlining what they call the current healthcare reality on Central and North Vancouver Island saying approximately 460,000 residents currently don’t have access to treatment for lifesaving medical care. 

Donna Hais says with an aging population and 80 per cent of the Island’s First Nations living in the region the  need for care is escalating.  

“If you have a heart attack, the Canadian standard of care for access to a cath-lab is 90 minutes,” Hais says. “There are two cath-labs in Victoria and none north of the Malahat. 

“If there was one in Nanaimo, we would be able to meet that standard of care. We’re the largest population in Canada without access to that standard.” 

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The greater Nanaimo area is expected to grow by 13.4 per cent to 134,504 by 2028 and Hais says adding additional services would mean the mortality rate for cardiac care would dramatically increase and would provide increased access to care for those living in rural settings. 

“Our survival rate would be much greater,” she says. “Only 45 per cent of the patients on Vancouver Island have access to proper heart health. If we were to have a cath-lab, and a full cardiac program out of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, we’d be able to service 90 per cent of the population.” 

In a report issued by the Vancouver Island Health Authority, it calls the state of care at NRGH inadequate and outdated because of the age and the limited capacity of beds the facility can accommodate.  

Hais adds to accommodate the region’s growth, the province needs to upgrade and provide more services to meet the demands of the city, region, and the island North of the Malahat. 

“We need a commitment from the province on a new 600-bed tower,” she says. “Currently our bed count is 346 beds, and we are well over 400 patients every single day. 

“With the tower people would be able to stay in their homes and their area, rather than travel for healthcare.”

According to the report, there were over 3,300 new cancer diagnoses in 2023 north of the Malahat, with 3,215 in the south along with 2,472 people living with cancer versus 2,192 in Victoria with no oncologists at NRGH to support these patients. 

For more information on healthcare, and how you can help visit their website.

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