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Posted: January 23, 2023

Vital SPECT-CT addition celebrated at EKRH

The East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH), East Kootenay Regional Hospital (EKRH) and supporting agencies celebrated a major success for local medical services January 17.

A brief gathering was held in EKRH’s MRI Waiting Room to celebrate a fundraising triumph and establishment of a SPECT-CT scanner.

The entire project cost $2.8 million, with $1 million coming from EKFH fundraising, $869,000 from Kootenay East Regional Hospital District (KERHD) through taxation and another $1 million from the provincial government.

EKFH allotted two years to raise the $1 million but achieved its goal in one year.

EKFH executive director Brenna Baker welcomed the gathering and noted

“From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you so much,” she said to the 800 plus donors who stepped up.

MLA Tom Shypitka addresses the Jan. 17 gathering. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photos

“It’s a happy day, for sure,” said Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka. “This is a critical piece of diagnostic imaging we need so desperately here. Our location is somewhat challenging and remote in some ways and we’ve seen a severance of our relationship with Alberta. The proximity that we have to Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver is lengthy, it’s timely, it’s costly and non-supportive and so all the pieces that we can bring to this regional hospital is really super important. This equipment will diagnose, track and assist in recovery plans and treatment plans, for cancer and diabetes and heart disease.

“There is lots of work ahead. This definitely isn’t the be-all of what we need in the Kootenay East. There are other important priorities such oncology, expanding that the lab and pharmacy need attention. But it’s a big chunk but as they say, ‘how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ This is definitely one bite.”

Shypitka added he was blown away by the generosity of donors. “The East Kootenay stepped up once again. It seems to be a song we keep singing over and over but it is super appreciated.”

KERHD Board Chair David Wilks.

Kootenay East Regional Hospital District (KERHD) Board Chair and District of Sparwood Mayor David Wilks said he and the board, on behalf of regional taxpayers, “are really appreciative of the foundation (EKFH) for their donation of a million dollars.”

The KERHD board works hard to keep taxes as low as possible and fundraising support helps in that goal, he said.

Work continues, Wilks noted, on improving the regional hospital.

“We have our eyes on the prize of oncology and renal. Ideally, I’d like to see radiation here as well. I think it is long overdue. We will not be going to Alberta again. That’s pretty well clear now so we are going to push hard with the province, push hard with IHA to try and get those things here. We believe the most reasonable that could happen here for oncology and renal would be a second tower. It makes a lot of sense. Rather than try and put out fires, let’s build for the future.

“We’re in a unique area of the province. On a good day it takes us nine hours to drive to Kelowna and we need to recognize the facilities that we have here in Cranbrook need to be top-notch and we are going to work toward that.”

EKFH Vice Chair Wes Rogers.

East Kootenay Foundation for Health Vice Chair Wes Rogers outlined the path to success of EKFH’’s fundraising campaign.

“This campaign for the SPECT-CT got kicked off in the fall of 2019. It was initially planned to be a two-year campaign. We went into 2020 all gung-ho but around March 2020 COVID hit. And when you are a non-profit, fundraising organization you get quite nervous. We had no idea we could meet our two-year goal. What ended up happening is over 800 donors came to the plate. A million dollars was raised and we did it in a year. I think that was the largest fundraising that we have ever done at that time. So despite all the uncertainties around COVID and everything that was going on, the community stepped up and we were able to get this done.”

Included in the donors were many individuals, but also businesses, service clubs and health care auxiliaries in Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere, Rogers pointed out.

“Those three (auxiliaries) always come up huge whenever we are doing fundraising for major programs and you just have to look at some of the donation walls from past campaigns and you see they are regularly on there. But it was everyone all throughout the East Kootenay who donated to this and even from outside the East Kootenay, as well,” he said.

Scott Edmonstone.

Scott Edmonstone, Director of Imaging for the East and West Kootenay, thanked all involved on behalf of Interior Health Authority (IH).

“We are always grateful for your contributions and stamina, persistence in one project after another. It is totally amazing. I am always humbled by the amount of donorship that goes in the East Kootenay community. It happened so fast. The amount of positivity that you bring to the patients and to the workers is amazing, so thank you very much,” he said.

Evan Revie, Nuclear Medicine Professional Practice Leader at EKRH outlined exactly what the SPECT-CT scanner does.

“The past few years have been very hard for the health care industry. And having a vital piece of equipment that was on its last legs and breaking down constantly, it made it a lot more difficult for us. So we are very grateful to have the community and organizations with such generosity that funded this project,” he began, adding the new scanner has made life easier at the hospital the past few months.

“The new SPECT-CT camera has the ability to take our nuclear medicine images that show the physiological processes within the body and infusing them with our CT images which show the anatomy and structure. It’s just giving us a lot more diagnostic results closer to home. With the new SPECT-CT camera and renovation we have been able to start offering some additional services for nuclear medicine,” he said before taking visiting dignitaries on tours of the addition to the hospital.

Lead image: Evan Revie, Nuclear Medicine Professional Practice Leader at EKRH with the SPECT-CT scanner. EKFH photo

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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