There have been numerous activities aimed at strengthening the care and services provided every day to those living in and visiting North Vancouver Island.
The provincial government’s January 27, 2023 announcement outlines actions directed at further stabilizing and enhancing healthcare services in the North Vancouver Island region and better supporting staff in continuing to deliver excellent, compassionate, trauma-informed and culturally safe care to local residents.
Actions are captured within the following activity streams, with key initiatives highlighted:
Expanding existing workforce
- Increasing number of people working within Island Health with an added focus on full-time equivalents in many service delivery areas, including nursing, long-term care, and community-based services such as home care, home support and mental health and substance use.
- Opportunity for local residents to obtain full-time employment as Protections Service Officers (PSOs), inter-facility porters (drivers), etc.
- Learn more about available positions and how to apply.
- On February 9, we rolled out incentives for Island Health employees who work in the North Vancouver Island region under a provincial incentives prototype.
- This includes:
- A retention incentive
- Travel incentives for staff moving between sites, and
- An enhanced referral incentive.
- The retention incentive provides all employees working in North Vancouver Island in regular status positions up to $2,000 per quarter based on their productive hours worked, with a maximum incentive payable to $8,000 annually.
- The travel incentives provides employees who are redeployed to a North Vancouver Island worksite that requires travel of 40 kilometers or greater from their primary worksite to be eligible for the following incentives:
- 1.5x premium pay for the duration of the shift if it would otherwise be paid at straight time
- Mileage and meals as per Island Health’s Reimbursement of Travel Expenses; and
- Accommodations and other travel expenses may also be paid by Island Health, where applicable.
- These enhanced employee referral incentives as part of the provincial prototype, is for eligible North Vancouver Island site referrals where employees will receive a cash incentive when they refer a successful candidate to a difficult to fill vacancy in an eligible worksite.
- To be eligible for the incentive, the referrer must be a current Island Health employee.
- Learn more about North Vancouver Island Incentives and eligibility.
Travel resource program
- This is in addition to the current internal professional travel program that supports Island Health nurses and other professionals (lab, medical Imaging, etc.) to take shifts in the North Vancouver Island region.
- Extension of Northern Health’s Travel Resource Program to include the North Vancouver Island region will provide access to a pool of nurses to support the community.
- The Travel Nurse BC program is a collaborative effort between Northern Health, Interior Health, Island Health, the Ministry of Health and the British Columbia Nurses Union that features a creative, innovative, and flexible approach to serving rural and remote communities.
- Improved/upgraded facilities
Infrastructure investments at the local hospitals
- Plans to upgrade existing spaces at Port Hardy Hospital and Port McNeill Hospital, including maternity, emergency departments, and trauma and nurses' stations, in order to better meet the needs of patients, staff and medical staff.
- Modernizing both the inpatient hospital areas as well as the emergency departments will increase the satisfaction of employment for our staff and partners and allow us to increase our ability to provide culturally safe and welcoming spaces for all those served, overall improving the experiences for our patients, clients and their families.
Renovations and improved furnishings to modernize leased staff temporary accommodations.
- Increased access
- Introduction of a new daily shuttle transport between Port Hardy Hospital, Port McNeill Hospital and Port Alice Healthcare Centre will provide patients who have been discharged from hospital with safe transport back to their home community. Residents requiring transport for ambulatory needs (accessing diagnostic and other services) can use the shuttle as well. Space may be limited depending on the number of discharged patients.
- This dedicated transport service will also support staff to travel more efficiently between sites.
- The service will replace the current practice of providing taxi vouchers to individuals who require transport following discharge from hospital.
- We are also working to implement a service that will transport patients back to Port Hardy Hospital and Port McNeill Hospital following discharge from Campbell River and Comox Valley hospitals.
Expanding Sobering, Assessment and Sheltering Services
- As an Island Health contracted service provider, the Salvation Army operates a sheltering, sobering and assessment program in Port Hardy with support from Island Health’s mental health and substance use team, BC Housing and the Mt. Waddington Regional District.
- This program improves safety for individuals who need a safe place for overnight sobering, supporting people who are frequently directed to emergency departments, police cells, or left on the street. It also provides necessary referrals to other community services.
- Expansion of sheltering, sobering and assessment services will allow the Salvation Army to provide 24/7 services (expansion from previous late evening and overnight services) and add 6 new sobering spaces.
- Understanding that there is a significant population of seniors waiting for a long-term care space in our local hospitals, we are expanding our capacity to support four additional residents at Eagle Ridge Manor.
Increased protection services support
- Island Health is hiring 10 new protection services officers at Port Hardy Hospital and Port McNeill Hospital.
- Protection services officers are located in healthcare facilities throughout Island Health and will be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week at Port Hardy Hospital and Port McNeill Hospital.
- Hiring more protection services officers will help to ensure the continued safety and security of patients, visitors, staff and medical staff.
- Approximately 1,500 CT Scans are required for people within the North Vancouver Island area each year. Currently, patients are required to travel out of their home communities to receive these diagnostic scans.
- Introduction of mobile CT diagnostic services to North Vancouver Island will improve access to this service.
- This will ensure North Vancouver Island residents will have access to CT scans in their own communities.
Emergency Department Training Initiative
- Our emergency departments are supported by multidisciplinary care teams. These teams are comprised of physicians and nurses with significant experience and/or training as practitioners within the emergency department.
- One of the keys to ensuring our emergency departments are open is having specialty-trained staff in place.
- The goal of this initiative is to develop a new program that provides local training opportunities for current staff to support enhanced service provision at local emergency departments.
- These local training opportunities limit potential service disruptions for local residents.
Virtual and community health services
- Ensuring local residents are aware of existing healthcare services (8-1-1, community virtual care, Community Health Services, etc).
- Explore and implement new virtual services as appropriate and communicate timelines and offerings with local residents.
- Promotion of 8-1-1, Community Health Services and other existing programs through local advertising campaigns and social media campaigns, including a social media patient education campaign currently directed toward North Vancouver Island.