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Hospital district board wants pathology services retained and expanded in North Island

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – The Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board do not want to outsource pathology services to a third party.

Dr. Aref Tabarsi gave a presentation during Thursday’s board meeting, expanding on what he had said to the Campbell River Mirror regarding the alleged outsourcing of pathology services to a third party company based in Victoria.

RELATED: Island Health responds to Campbell River pathologist’s concerns

Tabarsi said that pathology services need to stay in the North Island for patients in the area.

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“Since 2006, the hospital laboratory has been under constant erosion by Victoria. I remember, I came to work one day and they said all of our patients’ laboratory samples will go to Victoria. I ran and stopped the truck. I said, empty your load,” Tabarsi said during his presentation.

“However, despite many of these attempts by myself and the support of my colleagues, VIHA managed to still centralize some of the services.”

Dr. David Robertson, Island Health’s laboratory program executive medical director, said during the question and answer period that Campbell River is not the only facility that is going through changes in its pathology services.

Robertson pointed out that the change is because pathology is becoming more and more specialized, with fewer applicants for positions each year.

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“All the rest of the island from Parksville, which is essentially covered by Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Cowichan, Saanich Peninsula and Victoria hospitals have all moved to this process where specialty clinical pathology is done by clinical pathologists,” Robertson said.

He added that the North Island is the last part of Vancouver Island that will move into this kind of pathology sample processing.

Director Jim Abram put forward a motion to write a letter of support to Island Health and the Ministry of Health regarding the retention, expansion, and appropriate funding of pathology services at the Comox Valley and Campbell River campuses, both of which serve a wide area in the North Island.

Abram added in the motion that they should revisit the third-party contract and cancel it.

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Director Colleen Evans added to the motion, saying that North Island pathologists should be involved in the discussions regarding service retention and expansion, which the rest of the board agreed with.

“We fought hard to have our pathology laboratory services installed in our new hospital. We fought hard to keep that in those hospitals and Island Health should fully understand that the Campbell River hospital in particular has suffered cutbacks to services that we were promised in the beginning,” Director Brenda Leigh said.

“We spent $3 million dollars on the business plan for a pathology laboratory and services, and on the premise of having that service at the hospitals, we built those hospitals with that in mind. Dr. Tabarsi and his crew deserve our full support on this.”

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