East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook. Google maps photo

Cost pressures continue to impact health care projects in Cranbrook

Cost pressures continue to impact major capital planning projects in Cranbrook and the East Kootenay, according to an update from Interior Health on Friday.

Interior Health is continuing to plan for major projects at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital as well as a rebuild and expansion of the F.W. Green long-term care facility, however, escalating construction market costs continue to impact the budget planning process.

Major projects include plans for a new oncology and renal area at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, which would be built as a second floor on top of the new ICU, according to Todd Mastel, Director, Business Operations, with Interior Health.

“Where we’re at right now is working with our users to come up with the layout and service delivery model and try to fit what we need in the space that’s available above that ICU floor plate,” Mastel said, in an update to the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board on Friday.

The roof of the ICU has a concrete slab, which was part of intentional design for additions to the building, Mastel added.

Mastel hopes to have the business case planning completed by next September, as construction remains three to five years out.

With that in mind, the existing oncology space on the third floor of EKRH is set to be relocated to the rehabilitation space on the main floor.

“One of the challenges that’s related to oncology in particular…currently oncology is located on the third floor adjacent to medical beds. It’s a space that was not designed for that service,” Mastel said.

The design work for the new temporary space has been completed, with construction set to begin in January.

Plans for the expansion of the F.W. Green Home remain mired in cost pressures, according to Mastel.

“This project has been in planning for quite some time,” said Mastel. “The construction market escalation…has definitely impacted our plans on this one and working with the ministry on the overall need and affordability has taken a lot of time.

“We are working with the ministry on updating costing assumptions as we speak.”

The vision for the F.W. Green home expansion consists of two phases, according to Mastel. First phase would be construction of a new building on vacant adjacent land, then rebuilding the existing structure.

The project would double the existing long-term care beds from 60 to 130.

Sparwood mayor David Wilks, chair of the KERHD board, noted he had spoken with Health Minister Adrian Dix about the F.W. Green home project in recent months to advocate for the project as part of the 2023 provincial budget.

“He has never said no, so I’m optimistic,” said Wilks.

Interior Health typically delivers a list of capital projects in December ahead of the new year’s budget cycle. The KERHD board will meet again in February to review Interior Health’s identified projects.

Typically, the board funds 40 per cent of capital health care projects while the province shoulders the remaining 60 per cent.