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Posted: October 6, 2014

Scope of hospital upgrade changing

Something unusual occurred at the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District (KERHD) board meeting Oct. 3.

Interior Health (IH) representatives addressing the board received a warm round of applause.

Usually on the spot with hard questions and criticism whenever they appear before the board, IH’s Todd Mastel, director of business support and Erica Phillips, acute health service administrator, were commended and thanked for their work.

The IH representatives appeared before the board, along with East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH) executive director Donna Grainger and board chair Brian Clifford, to seek the KERHD’s approval to expand the scope of the East Kootenay Regional Hospital Intensive Care Unit and hospital electrical system upgrade project.

“The change relates to redeveloping the space that will be vacated inside the existing building after the new ICU is completed, which will then be used for pediatric and nursery services. We will be able to accommodate the increase in the scope of work within existing Ministry of Health (MoH) and KERHD funding commitments due to the EKFH’s commitment to undertake a major fundraising campaign for a large component of the ICU clinical equipment. The MoH has approved the scope change,” explained IH’s Birgit Koster, director of business support/capital planning in a letter to the regional hospital board.

The EKFH’s commitment to fundraise for ICU equipment was subject to the KERHD’s approval of the request, which was unanimously granted.

Mastel told the board the MoH “is very supportive of this change,” noting the placement of the pediatric and nursery services in the former ICU is a better location for those services.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for us,” he said.

“This is exciting news for us. There is no downside for anybody,” remarked KERHD board chair John Kettle, thanking the EKFH for taking on the $1 million fundraising challenge for ICU clinical equipment.

“It’s much needed in our community,” added board vice-chair, District of Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher.

As noted earlier, IH representatives are often the brunt of hard questioning by the regional board because they are often seeking more funding support for projects.

In this instance, they received unanimous approval and appreciation.

“Boy, this is wonderful – the whole idea of found space,” said Electoral Area G director Gerry Wilkie.

“I think this is an example of projects being planned properly. It is awesome that there are the local partners (EKFH)” to raise funds, added District of Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft.

City of Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski thanked EKFH. “I’m really happy to see they are taking on another challenge,” he said.

“The foundation should be commended,” said Village of Canal Flats Mayor Ute Juras.

“This is common sense. This is unbelievable for the taxpayers. I am quite proud,” Kettle said before leading applause for the presenters.

EKFH’s Grainger told the board “fundraising started two hours ago” and returned appreciation to the board. “Thank you for being leaders for the East Kootenay,” she said, then half-jokingly asked directors to “reach down to your wallets.”

IH’s Phillips said, “I am glad we were able to come together for a positive outcome.”

Mastel said the timeframe for the additional work would likely be 2016.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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