Significant investment to stabilize north island health-care services

Posted on: January 27, 2023

Today, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced significant investments and initiatives to immediately stabilize and improve access to health-care services, including emergency care, in Port Hardy and the Mount Waddington region.

To stabilize and improve access to health care in the North Island, emergency department services will be available from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. in Port Hardy, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Cormorant Island, and 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Port McNeill. Regular hours will be restored as soon as possible. In the interim, these hours will allow patients and families to know where and when emergency services are available.

“We have heard the community loud and clear. People need to know when services are available and when they are not,” said Kathy MacNeil, president and CEO, Island Health. “To prevent unexpected closures, Island Health is temporarily suspending overnight emergency department services in Port Hardy and on Cormorant Island while our new measures come into place. We will resume regular hours as soon as possible, and work to immediately accelerate efforts to expand services and strengthen staffing throughout the region.”

The following initiatives are launching immediately throughout northern Vancouver Island:

  • More supports for staff, including:
    • staff retention (as much as $2,000 in quarterly incentives) and recruitment strategies (as much as $1,500 bonus for employee referrals) for eligible staff;
    • offering eligible staff who travel to fill local shifts 1.5 times their normal wage for straight time hours worked in addition to mileage and meal expenses; and
    • renovations and improved furnishing to accommodations.
  • Extension of Northern Health’s Travel Resource Program to include the Mount Waddington region, which will provide access to a pool of nurses to support the community.
  • Enhanced safety with additional protection service officers 24/7.
  • New daily shuttle transport between communities for patients and staff.
  • Deploying mobile computed tomography (CT) diagnostic services to the region
  • Expanded access to sobering assessment beds, including adding more beds and providing 24/7 access to increase access to appropriate supportive care and reduce emergency-department admissions.
  • Increasing long-term care capacity by four additional beds to support the Port Hardy Hospital.
  • Upgrading the Port McNeill and Port Hardy hospitals by renovating existing spaces, including the maternity, emergency departments, trauma and nurses’ stations.
  • Increasing home-health and home-support services in Port Hardy and surrounding areas.

These initiatives will be funded with approximately $30 million in capital and ongoing operating funding provided by the Ministry of Health.

“These changes are a first and significant step to ensure reliable access to care, while the Ministry of Health works with Island Health on the many other actions underway to address health-care staffing challenges in the region,” Dix said.

Read the full announcement here.