Elkford mayor Dean McKerracher was re-elected chair of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District board last week as the body of regional directors also approved the 2017 budget for capital projects across the area.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to fulfill the role of chair and thank my fellow directors for their continued confidence in me,” said McKerracher. “As I look ahead to 2017, I am eager to continue to build upon our strong working relationship with Interior Health, to celebrate the completion of some of the key projects that are underway, and to work cooperatively to ensure our residents have access to the equipment and acute health care facilities they need.”
McKerracher was nominated unopposed for the chair position, while Larry Binks, the Area C director for the Regional District of Central Kootenay, was voted vice-chair in a secret ballot process over Kimberley mayor Don McCormick.
The capital projects budget is roughly $6.5 million that includes projects from the Elk Valley to Columbia Valley Cranbrook and Creston. However, $4.6 million of that funding is dedicated to outstanding projects approved in previous years such as the ICU and MRI at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
The EKRH will get some more attention in 2017, with projects that include a biomes department renovation, a medical air compressor, laboratory/pharmacy renovation planning, general medical nursing station renovations, urology imaging system and others.
The largest projects include a boiler room upgrade in the Elk Valley hospital, while a radiographic system will be installed in Creston.
“They’re all presented to use from IH and they’re priority projects,” said McKerracher. “They have other projects that they haven’t bothered to present to us, but these priority projects were authorized by the IH board for funding…so now they’ll take this motion that we have back to the IH board and say this is the funding we received from Kootenay East, can we go forward with the projects?”
Interior Health identified the projects in a letter to board members, however, not all were supported, according to McKerracher. That issue revolved around funding for equipment for residential care homes.
That touched off a discussion around the board table that the provincial government should be stepping up to fulfill their health care obligations.
“As you heard at the meeting today, we’re going to have a report from staff on how those homes are funded and whether or not we should be getting into funding some of those homes and some of the portions of what they do there,” said McKerracher.
“We’ll have a good discussion on that probably two meetings from now.”