Hospital projects approved in budget

Without needing a tax increase, the hospital district has agreed to partially fund five Interior Health projects in its 2014 budget

The hospital district has approved funding for a host of projects at East Kootenay hospitals, without raising the tax rate for residents.

At a meeting on Friday, Feb. 14 of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District, the board of directors approved the 2014 annual budget.

The budget includes funding for five capital projects that Interior Health plans to complete in 2014. The hospital district funds 40 per cent of the projects, while the B.C. government funds the remaining 60 per cent.

This year, the projects include one at Golden Hospital, one at Sparwood Health Centre, and three at East Kootenay Regional Hospital.

At the Cranbrook hospital, one of the projects is a portable x-ray system known as a C-Arm that can shoot still and continuous images. It can be used through an operating room table or stretcher and can be moved to various locations in the hospital.

Next, the board approved funding for a cart washer and disinfector – a high capacity mechanical washer that can wash, disinfecting and dry virtually any metal or molded cart, utensils, beds and other reusable items. It uses high temperature and high velocity water jets to sanitize with a minimum of water consumption.

The final Cranbrook project is an upgrade for the Mobile MRI unit that is often parked outside East Kootenay Regional Hospital. The upgrade will improve exam speed and quality and extend the life of the unit, which was made in 2005. The unit is shared between the East and West Kootenay and the Okanagan-Similkameen.

In Sparwood, the board approved funding to replace the digital controls for the various mechanical systems at the Health Centre. In Golden, the hospital will receive an isolation room that can admit patients who need to be isolated so that airborne contaminants aren’t transferred to other patients.

The funding for these five projects together is $499,936. With funding commitments the board has made in previous years but not yet been required to pay for, the total capital budget is $1.8 million.

The hospital district’s 2014 budget was adopted by the board on Friday. There is no increase to the tax rate for East Kootenay constituents. It’s the fifth year without a tax rate increase; the last time the rate increased was in 2008.