The Week: Readers alarmed by reduced North Island hospital services send our stories viral

The Week: Readers alarmed by reduced North Island hospital services send our stories viral

An orange day-lily (Latin name: hemerocallis fulva)  |  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: Readers alarmed by reduced North Island hospital services send our stories viral


Decafnation readers sent last week’s articles viral about the resignation of the Comox Valley Hospital’s remaining two pathologists and the troubling story of Shirley Brown, whose cancer diagnosis was delayed almost two months because of the shortage of pathologists at the Campbell River Hospital.

And it would have been even longer except that Shirley’s husband is Dr. Paul Brown, a 40-year physician who knew the system and who to call.

As Shirley’s story showed, it’s not just that long periods of uncertainty cause unnecessary anxiety and stress, although that’s bad enough, but delays can cause significant unfavourable modification in how doctors are able to treat their patients.

There is no doubt that a shortage of healthcare services available on the North Island can and will have tragic consequences.

People all over Vancouver Island are reading these stories because they realize that what happened to Shirley Brown could also happen to them. And that sad scenario becomes more likely as Island Health continues to take health care services from our hospitals and give them to private doctor corporations in Victoria.

Now that the NDP appears to have won a majority government, will our two North Island MLAs have the decency (backbone?) to intervene on behalf of their constituents?

This week’s top story reports on a recent two-day workshop where regional district directors initiated discussions about the future of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society. Although directors haven’t yet taken an official vote to start exploring other — read: better — options, this movement is long overdue.

Part of the problem is evident in the list of economic strategies that regional directors want CVEDS to consider for their 2021 work plan. The list includes topics such as child care, arts and culture, the green retrofit industry, communal workspaces and more.

For too long, social and environmental values have been foreign to the old CVEDS mindset.

The shift in emphasis has upset many of the CVEDS own board of directors and especially because the regional directors have taken such an active role in setting CVEDS priorities. Three CVEDS directors have resigned recently — Bruce Turner, Justin Rigsby and Brian Yip.

But the CVRD has always had the contractual authority to set CVEDS’ priorities and direct its work plan. Previous regional directors just never chose to exercise it.

Perhaps if the CVRD had provided more meaningful oversight a long time ago, and if the CVEDS board had been more in tune with shifting community values, and if the staff had not soured some relationships within various business sectors, then maybe the political rancour over reforming the organization might not have needed to reach this point.

Not had enough politics? How about throwing your hat in the ring for the Comox Valley school board? There’s a position open in Electoral Area C after Ian Hargreaves recently resigned in a huff.

You have until Nov. 6 to pick up a nomination package at the school board offices in Courtenay.

Did British Columbia voters really elect an NDP majority government? The election night tally seems to indicate so, and everyone assumes the mail-in ballots will follow that trend.

But there are 11,500 uncounted mail-ballots in the Courtenay-Comox riding and the NDP leads the BC Liberals by about 3,000. That feels like an insurmountable margin. But it’s not yet guaranteed.

Decafnation asked a few people how they saw the preliminary results. We pointed out that the NDP appears to have gained an additional 10 percent of the total vote in the Courtenay-Comox riding, while the BC Liberals lost about six percent and the Greens gained about three percent.

BC Liberal Party candidate Brennan Day hinted that he would have a lot to say about the general tone of this campaign from Vancouver. But he was “going to reserve comment until the votes are counted.”

Dave Mills, the manager of organizing programs at the Dogwood Initiative, believes that COVID dominated voters’ perspectives. “It governed … the perception of what issues generally are most important – how the pandemic is managed.”

Mills thinks that the voters who had the capacity and felt confident enough to turn out at the polls on Election Day would be the same people “who appreciate Horgan’s centrist vision.”

Delores Broten, editor and publisher of The Watershed Sentinel, said she was waiting for the final count, “but overall, I think Bonnie Henry just got elected.”

And she credited the local Green Party for the scramble they went through to do as well as they did in a month. Candidate Gillian Anderson wasn’t even nominated until a week into the short campaign.

“So if I were the greens I would not be disappointed,” she said. “Maybe also ask the question the other way around: What happened to crushing the Greens so they would lose all their seats and just go away? They came second in several ridings which I don’t think has happened before.”

Speaking of Dr. Bonnie Henry, we’re thankful for the new guidelines to keep household gatherings down to a Safe Six, and that she expects people to wear masks in all public places. Henry stopped short of making mask-wearing a mandate. But based on our local experience, it might become necessary.

Every day, we see people in stores without masks. Just this week, the front door greeter at a prominent grocery store in the Comox business district offered a mask to a male shopper. He not only refused but did so emphatically.

Finally, a Decafnation reader wrote to us about the large, beautiful Brugmansia suaveolens plant displayed at the main Comox intersection.

“One reason the plant is banned (in many cities) is because, in small amounts, it’s hallucinogenic(!) – that is, people are reckless enough to eat it to try to get high. Perhaps wise not to mention that and encourage anyone!”

Holy Moly, if we let that get out, all the stoners from Eastern Canada will be camping on Comox Avenue in their VW buses. Shades of The Great Mushroom Rush of 1985 on Headquarters Road.










While physical distancing isn’t required within your household or your “safe six,” the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19:


Keep a safe physical distance.
Gather in well-ventilated areas.
Clean surfaces that people often touch. 
Wash hands frequently and do not touch your face.
Limit time together indoors.
Go outdoors as much as possible.
Do not serve food buffet style.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has made no recommendation about the use of masks at private gatherings. 
But she said this week that she expects people towear masks in all indoor public places.




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