Cowichan District Hospital laundry closure makes no sense, say HEU activists

VIHA to explain shut down of newly-renovated regional facility on June 7

The fight to keep the newly-renovated Cowichan District Hospital laundry facility open and 12 jobs in the community, is alive and thriving in Duncan with HEU activists out in the streets and in the news since the closure plan was announced April 23.

CDH laundry workers have mounted a high profile campaign demanding that the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) come clean with the reasons for closing the laundry service that will throw 12 employees out of work and see area-laundry shipped to Victoria. Angry HEU members have drawn attention to the issues of job losses and questionable cost-savings with demonstrations on the Koksilah pedestrian overpass and busy town intersections with banners, flags, derelict washing machines, leaflets and calls for an explanation from the health authority.

To date, neither HEU nor the affected members have received any information. After being pressed by concerned citizens, reporters and the HEU Cowichan Hospital local, the VIHA confirmed that costs and recommendations would be made public on June 7. According to local media reports about the impending closure, a VIHA spokesperson has admitted that regional staff are “studying savings projections” and “still in the fact-finding stage”.

The refrain is familiar to HEU members across B.C. as health authorities announce health care cuts, closures and changes without consultation, study or rationale.

The CDH laundry facility cleans all the laundry from the hospital, the Chemainus Health Care Centre, Ladysmith Hospital, Cowichan Lodge and ten local care facilities and medical clinics. A facility-upgrade to the tune of $1.2 million was completed in April after an earlier hospital feasibility study showed that it was more cost effective to renovate than send laundry down-Island.

The Cowichan District Hospital laundry is in the Cowichan-Ladysmith constituency of provincial Liberal MLA and labour minister Graham Bruce.