The provision of health care for seniors in the Cowichan Valley will be a central issue in the coming years, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix.
At a news conference on April 1 to announce that the land on Bell McKinnon Road where the region’s new $887.4-million hospital will be built has been transferred to Island Health, Dix was asked if there has been any discussion around using the old hospital on Gibbins Road for a seniors’ facility, an affordable housing project or for some other purpose to help fill the growing social needs in the community in the future.
He said it still has to be determined what will happen with the old hospital and the property it’s on when the new hospital opens in 2026, and he expects a lot of thought will have to put into that question, but he pointed out that the increasing population of seniors in the Valley and their health care requirements will have to be addressed in the coming years.
“The overall population in the region has increased by 25 per cent since 2000, and it’s expected to increase another 13 per cent by 2041,” Dix said.
“But the population of people over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 48 per cent by 2041, and seniors above 75 years of age will see their numbers increase by 144 per cent in the same time period. So the need to address senior services in this community is central to the provision of health care here.”
Dix said the health issues around senior care in the coming years are not the only concerns that are being raised in the region, and those involving youth, chronic disease, mental health, addiction and others all need to be addressed as well.
“But service to seniors in this region will be central to the discussion when we consider what we are to do with the old hospital site, and everywhere else in the community,” he said.