“We are very pleased with the progress to date,” said Mike Pennock, VIHA Population Health Epidemiologist. “There is a lot of work to be done to identify the overall health needs of the Cowichan community, but we are encouraged by the results to date and the commitment of members of the Working Group to finding solutions.”
The Working Group has been struck to recommend the terms of reference for the CVCHN as well as provide input into the future use of the Cowichan Lodge buildings and site. The Working Group has membership from local government, VIHA, First Nations and a number of groups and individuals interested in Cowichan Valley health care.
“The Working Group process will ensure that the Health Network has the right terms of reference to be an effective voice for health care in the Cowichan Valley,” said Interim Chair and North Cowichan Councillor, George Seymour. “The meetings to date have been constructive and positive and are setting the stage for improved health care for our residents.”
Seymour noted that over the past several months a number of new health care investments have been made by VIHA for the benefit of Valley residents, with more to come as resources become available.
“While the closure of Cowichan Lodge was difficult for our community, VIHA funding for Warmland House and new mental health supports for our community is very welcome,” said Seymour. “As well, increasing the number of regular beds from 91 to 101 at Cowichan District Hospital and the commitment to move the kidney dialysis service out of the hospital and into the community are signs that we are headed in the right direction.”
Cowichan District Hospital’s master site planning continues, but even during this time the new pharmacy is close to completion and planning to build an extension to house Island Medical Program students has begun.
“We have certainly had our share of challenges over the past couple of years, so it’s nice to see some investments and a recognition by VIHA that more has to be done both in the community and at the hospital to support Cowichan Valley health care,” said Dr. Len Roy, site chief at CDH. “The Working Group and Community Health Network will ensure that Cowichan voices are heard and our health care needs are addressed.”
First Nations are also participating in the CVCHN process as ensuring Aboriginal citizens have access to high quality health care is a high priority to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
“I am pleased to be participating in the development of the Health Network as it is important that the voices of the First Nations members of the Cowichan Valley are heard through this process,” said Judith Gohn, Health Director for the Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre.
The future use of Cowichan Lodge is also being examined by the CVCHN Working Group.
"The Cowichan Lodge, Waldon House adult daycare program and their site are tremendous assets for residents of the Cowichan Valley," said Joanna Neilson, Interim Chair of the Working Group discussing the future use(s) of Cowichan Lodge. "We are pleased with VIHA's assurances that Cowichan Lodge will continue to be used for public health care, and that its future use(s) will be determined through consultation with the public. We look forward to continue working with the Health Network to ensure that VIHA keeps those commitments."
A public meeting for interested residents of the Cowichan Valley will be held early in 2010.
Valerie Wilson, VIHA Communications