Board asks hospital for privacy screen

Hospital district would like Interior Health to provide a cover between the walkway from EK Regional Hospital and the Mobile MRI trailer

Interior Health is being urged to provide covered access the entire way from East Kootenay Regional Hospital into the Mobile MRI trailer that is parked outside the hospital one week a month.

On Friday, May 2, directors of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District board appealed to Interior Health to provide some kind of covering between the end of the walkway and the entrance to the trailer.

“It’s embarrassing for people to have to go out there, and when it is cold, when it is raining, when it is windy…,” said Mary Giuliani, mayor of Fernie. “Why couldn’t a canvas cover be easy enough to do? I think this is a really easy matter for Interior Health to take care of and it would make life so much easier for the people who are needing it.”

The Mobile MRI unit provides diagnostic imaging for patients of the East Kootenay one week out of every month. It is shared with the South Okanagan and Kootenay Boundary districts.

In 2005, Interior Health built a glassed-in, heated walkway out to the parking space where the trailer sits. However, the trailer cannot connect directly to the walkway and patients must walk outside in hospital gowns to get from the walkway to the trailer.

“Here’s a vision for you: me in a gown, cowboy hat and boots, and the wind comes up. Not a good look for neighbours, for kids, or anybody else,” said board chair John Kettle.

Todd Mastel, director of business support for Interior Health, told the board that the hospital’s practice is for the MRI technician to meet the patient inside the hospital and offer for them to wear their coat or a blanket over the gown, and carry their personal belongings out to the trailer.

However, Giuliani said when she accompanied someone to have the test done recently, that was not the case and the patient went from the walkway to the trailer in nothing but a gown in the depth of winter.

“We didn’t get it right that day and I apologize for that,” responded Mastel.

Interior Health has weighed up the cost of connecting the trailer to the passageway, but consider it to be a low priority given other expenses facing the hospital district.

“It becomes a balancing act in terms of how this item fits in terms of a priority versus all the other challenges we have on the capital side,” said Mastel.

“We’re not sure that there is something that would make it significantly better than what we have now.”

But Mike Sosnowski, Area A director, said it seemed like the board was getting the brush-off on the issue.

“I went and looked; it’s not rocket science. $10,000 could put a canvas cover on wheels. A local contractor could do that in a week,” he said.

Garry Jackman, director of Area A in the Central Kootenay district, said that a frame constructed with a series of hoops, each larger than the last, with an accordion style canvas cover, would solve the problem and include the stairs into the trailer.

“To me, privacy is as big an issue as anything else. Any kind of screen on the side – even on one side – would cut the wind, which would make it more comfortable, and it would provide privacy,” said Jackman.

Chair Kettle asked Interior Health to look at the issue again and provide a more detailed response to the board.

“I don’t think you’ve ever given us the brush-off, but we need a better answer than we have right now,” said Kettle.