One of the premier rehabilitation centers in the country may relocate if the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority proceeds with plans to consolidate some of its facilities.
The VCHA announced on Tuesday that it might move G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre into the Vancouver General Hospital.
The move may improve efficiencies in some areas, but for many who have spent time at G.F. Strong, it's not necessarily a step in the right direction.
"G.F. Strong, for me, was heads and shoulders over my experience at VGH," said Whistler local John Ryan.
"I sure enjoyed my time there as opposed to Vancouver General. It didn't have that hospital feel."
Ryan spent seven weeks at VGH immediately following a car accident in the winter of 1995. From there he moved into G.F. Strong for 12 to 13 weeks to work on his rehabilitation.
He admits he was in bad shape in intensive care at VGH and that may affect they way he recalls his stay there. But, the fact remains that G.F. Strong stands out as a far superior place in his mind a place where patients can set goals and get help and support to achieve them.
"I starved at Vancouver General Hospital," he recalled.
"The food was god awful."
In addition to a better cafeteria at the rehab centre, Ryan also recalled the time he spent in the gym playing wheelchair basketball. And, he said, the surrounding residential area made the centre feel more like a home than a hospital.
The G.F. Strong building, located at King Edward Avenue and Oak Street, is about 55 years old.
"It's been a long standing property," said Karla Mebs, executive director with the B.C. Rehab Foundation.
"Old buildings need a lot of money to maintain."
Still, she is hoping the G.F. Strong model for rehab will remain the same even if the surroundings change.
"The bricks and mortar will go away but the program and service will stay and I'm hoping they will be enhanced," she said.
"Hopefully (the move) will be very positive and we can see upgrades to equipment."
In the strategy plan for the VCHA there are a list of potential advantages for moving G.F. Strong to VGH. Among them are:
- Natural linkages with acute care services including spine and neuroscience which are a major referral source
- Opportunities for shared services
- Easier access for patients to acute medical support including radiology and laboratory
- No need to create stand-alone diagnostic facilities
"(We want to) ask the question, could that service be better coordinated by having it shifted, if you will, within the Vancouver General Hospital site footprint and hook it up to the neuroscience work that we do at Vancouver General and the spine work we do at Vancouver General ?" queried Hugh MacLeod, interim CEO with the VCHA.
He said the move is still under consideration and will be reviewed in the coming months.
According to the plan, future savings of the relocation of G.F. Strong are estimated at $3.1 million.