EDITORIAL: Respect our elders, stat

When Squamish General Hospital opened in May of 1952, the “modern” facility could accommodate 20 patients.

It had two operating rooms, an X-ray machine, and a lab.

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“Decorated in pastel colours and the nursery and children’s wards are particularly attractive,” reads The Squamish Advance on May 29, 1952.

When the facility officially opened in mid-September that year, the front page news shared space with a story about the first Squamish case of polio.

We have come a long way since then.

But our facilities have not kept pace.

The numbers tell the story.

The population of Squamish was less than 1,000 in the 1950s. By the late 1970s, as the hospital celebrated its 25th  anniversary, locals were starting to talk about the need to expand, according to an article in The Squamish Times on May 18, 1977.

The population of the corridor currently tops 42,000 and Squamish itself is set to reach 30,000 by 2031.

The Squamish hospital has 25 beds and serves about 14,000 patients a year — according to 2017 Vancouver Coastal Health data — seeing patients from Mount Currie through Squamish.

There is no doubt it is a great hospital with amazing nurses, doctors, and staff that competently attends to locals and visitors alike. And there have been upgrades to our health facilities over the years that have made a difference.

But it needs to increase its capacity, stat.

As our population booms and the hospital stays relatively the same, it is a bit like a woman who is expecting triplets ignoring that she lives in a one-room house and her extended family is slated to come to stay for a few months.

Something is going to have to give.

This week, a letter sent to The Chief carried the signatures of 22 local seniors concerned about both the capacity of the hospital and Hilltop House, the corridor’s nursing home with 86 long-term beds. The letter came with stories of friends and family who had to be transferred away from Squamish for care. Vancouver Coastal Health told The Chief six patients are in the North Shore who can move to Hilltop when space comes available.

 While this is to be expected at times, what the letter-writers claim is an increasing pattern where those who built this town, are unable to get care here.

This is a shame we should all carry.

Our elders and future generations deserve better.

Our municipal leaders know there is an issue, but they need to hear from residents that even further advocacy is needed. Write to council@squamish.ca so they know you support them putting pressure on Vancouver Coastal Health.

Tell VCH  (find the board of directors and feedback forms at www.vch.ca) and most importantly contact B.C.’s minister of health, the ministry responsible for the health authority: Minister of Health Adrian Dix 1-250-953-3547.  Tell him that the world is coming to the Sea to Sky Corridor, but our facilities need to serve those who built it.


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