News Local

Vancouver Hospital’s future cast in doubt

By Stefania Seccia

NDP MLA Jenny Kwan is concerned about the future of Mount St. Joseph Hospital. 
(Jeremy Mckay/24 Hours)

NDP MLA Jenny Kwan is concerned about the future of Mount St. Joseph Hospital. (Jeremy Mckay/24 Hours)

While the closure of St. Paul’s Hospital making way for a $1.2 billion new one further away is welcome news for some, it’s raising eyebrows over the future of Mount St. Joseph’s.

NDP MLA Jenny Kwan said last year, Mount St. Joseph Hospital pitched a $28 million upgrade to its emergency department that was ultimately denied by the province.

“We’re wondering why the proposal was rejected – was it turned down because the government’s intention is to shut it down?” she asked.

“Mount St. Joseph is a very important hospital for our community, particularly for the (Chinese) community.”

Kwan said Mount St. Joseph has seen the fastest growth of any emergency department in the region. In 2005, there were 12,729 patients – but this year it’s set to exceed 28,000 patients.

“It’s the highest growth in the region, there’s a need there,” she said. “If they shut down Mount St. Joseph’s, where will people go?”

Kwan brought up the hospital’s future with Minister of Health Terry Lake in the B.C. legislature on Monday, but he didn’t give her a clear answer.

In the B.C. legislature, Lake said “the reality is this opportunity is an opportunity to increase health care for all of Vancouver Coastal Health, including Mount St. Joe’s, with integration, with coordination and continued investment in what is an excellent facility at Mount St. Joseph Hospital.”

Lake later made comments that while he didn’t want to speculate, there could be some realignment of services, which Kwan said to her means “they’re going to close Mount St. Joseph.”

The minister was unavailable for an interview, but in an email from the ministry, it stated that “further planning is underway to identify opportunities for innovation, which could ... reduce emergency department space requirements.”

In the last few years, the province and other partners spent approximately $7.7 million in various upgrades to the hospital, including upgrading its elevators, hot water system and a CT scanner; and $4.9 million for consolidating St. Vincent’s Hospital services to Mount St. Joseph’s.

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