An influx of long-term care beds is good news to long-term care providers in the Comox Valley. 

So says Island Health’s executive director for seniors health & primary care, Mark Blandford.

Blandford said the 20 new beds are much-needed in the valley, in particular.

“The important thing to remember is that Island Health is constantly looking at its long-term care beds and our bed requirement, and we’re particularly short of long-term care beds on the North Island, and particularly short in the Comox Valley,” he said. 

“So 20 additional beds in the Comox Valley will certainly alleviate pressures on the Comox Valley Hospital, and it’ll support families in the community that have been struggling with their loved ones, particularly through the COVID crisis.”

Island Health is funding the beds, which will be placed in the newly refurbished unit at the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.

The unit is adjacent to The Views at St. Joseph’s, an existing long-term care facility operated by Providence Residential and Community Care Services Society. 

The province says the beds will meet its target of 3.36 direct care hours per resident day.

They’ll be operational at St. Joseph’s until summer 2021, when 120 permanent, publicly funded beds will open in the Comox Valley at Ocean Front Village.

Blandford said on top of needing more beds in the future, the island needs to enhance its community service deliveries “so that we reduce our reliance on beds.”

“But without a doubt, we will need more beds. The question is, if we increase our community support, we can temper the need for those beds.”

Renovations to the unit are currently underway and it’s expected the beds will be ready to accept residents in the coming weeks.

“We’re just finalizing staffing and these beds will be in use very quickly,” Blandford said.

He added that the COVID crisis expedited the process of bringing these beds to the valley.

“This is an excellent provider,” Blandford added.

“Providence Health delivers superb services elsewhere and have here. So in terms of securing the beds, it was pretty straightforward. The operator is easy to work with, and with the pressing need that COVID has presented, it enabled us to move quicker than we would normally.”