Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health, announced Wednesday the province’s commitment to building a new ICU facility at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for a cost of $33.85 million. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/NEWS BULLETIN)

Editorial: Hospital ICU investment welcome in our Hub City

A Hub City needs to be a hub of all sorts of services, including health care.

A new intensive care unit for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital is a welcome and important upgrade for health care here. It’s already needed, and that need will become more pronounced as our city grows.

When we think of Nanaimo as the Hub City for our part of Vancouver Island, we’re often thinking about the important transportation connections that happen here. But our shops and services also draw people here from surrounding communities on the Island, and so does our health care.

The Nanaimo hospital is a busy place because it serves our community of 90,000-plus and also provides various types of care to patients from around the region. The hospital, Island Health and health services in general are huge employers. Better facilities benefit patients and help nurses and physicians do their jobs, and we like the idea that hospital expansion could sort of feed into itself and hopefully create momentum for continued investment in the sector. While there are a few parking challenges currently in the area, there realistically is capacity for continued hospital expansion.

We’ve heard that demographics of an aging population mean that over time, some of the pressures could ease at the Nanaimo hospital. But our city will probably still grow and the B.C. government foresees that, anticipating that visits to Nanaimo’s intensive care unit could increase by 30 per cent over the next 15 years.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said when he became minister in 2017, the Nanaimo ICU project rapidly become a priority of the provincial government. He said people here need and deserve a new ICU.

“It has moved forward quickly because we desperately need the project,” he said.

If this is a fast-tracked fix, it also aligns well with long-term good health for Nanaimo and the region.

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