The Kootenay East Regional Hospital board affirmed local capital project priorities during a discussion in Cranbrook on Aug. 12, as local elected officials continue to work with Interior Health and the provincial government to push proposals forward.
The expansion of the FW Green Home long-term care facility in Cranbrook, updating oncology and renal services at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital and upgrading or replacing the Golden and District Hospital are the three main issues identified by the Kootenay East Regional Hospital district board.
The Golden Hospital was first built in 1959 and is in need of updates. Notably, flooding caused by a blocked drain in late November 2021 required the floor of the OR to be replaced, causing the OR to be closed for two months. Initial repairs were estimated to take approximately five weeks, but stretched through January.
Urgent surgeries were diverted to alternate facilities, including any deliveries requiring C Section backup. Certain booked procedures were also postponed.
The hospital is also built on a floodplain, making this type of disruption a concern for the board.
“I think it’s a really important project, we’ve learned over the years that there will be many challenges if that hospital should flood in a catastrophic way.” said David Wilks, KERHD board chair.
According to Wilks, there is no plan from KERHD on what would happen if a flood were to occur and where patients would be diverted to. He added that it would also be interesting to see if any other local hospitals, which are all over an hour from Golden already, would even be able to absorb the extra capacity.
“Let’s try and work towards some thing that is more sustainable for the Golden hospital and the future,” said Wilks.
“My preference would be for us to start planning for a new hospital, I think it’s overdue and we know Golden is a busy hospital.”
Wilks says that there is no timeline on when upgrades or replacement could occur as it depends on what Interior Health brings forward, meaning the soonest planning could start would be during budget 2023.
Part of establishing upgrades or replacement as a priority is to bring the attention of the province to the issue.
“We’re in the early stages, it’s not even on the priority list for the Province, but I want the Minister to know that it is a priority here,” said Wilks.
“We’ll see what the province decides moving forward, but we’ve certainly made it clear to the province that we believe that the potential of a new hospital is something that should be looked at.”
Back in February, $22,000 was allocated for the replacement of a retaining wall at the Golden & District Hospital, as a part of the KERHD budget. The province will be contributing an additional $33,900.
KERHD contributes 40 per cent of the funds to capital projects, while the Province supplies the remainder.
Additionally, there’s still plans in the works to expand the Primary Care Network to Golden, which was the largest item in the budget, coming in at $1.8 million.
KERHD will be contributing $740,000, while the Province will provide the remaining $1,110,000.
~with files from Trevor Crawley