Healthy persistence from regional politicians and local communities has led to a $9.4-million infusion from the province for a new emergency department at KBRH (Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital).
Healthcare staff, district directors, municipal councils and citizens gathered in the hospital’s lobby on Thursday to hear Minister Terry Lake’s announcement that the first phase of KBRH upgrades were approved. In addition to provincial dollars, the $17-million project will be funded $1 million by the hospital’s health foundation and $6.3 million by taxpayers in the West Kootenay-Boundary hospital district.
“The upgrade to the Emergency Department at KBRH is tremendous news for the residents of the West Kootenay-Boundary region, the hospital staff and for the City of Trail, ” says Trail Mayor Mike Martin. “The most important and critical first step in the phased Service Priority Renovations project demonstrates the province’s commitment to this regional healthcare asset that solidifies its ongoing use for years to come.”
Plans include a single-storey addition to the existing wing, which is anticipated to triple the size of the current Emergency Room unit (ER).
Dr. Jeff Hussey spoke on behalf of hospital staff. He provided insight into what the upgrades will be, how they will improve patient care in the future, and how the project will positively impact the ER’s work environment in general.
“As we all know, our Emergency Department manages the sickest and most injured patients in our community, at their most vulnerable periods,” he began. “We are proud to have recruited the caring and dedicated staff that we have working and we’ve been able to deal with the chaos and challenges, some of it has to do with our brick and mortar, that we are having to work within.”
The renovation is not a patchwork plan, he emphasized.
“We are really proud that this renovation will give us a state-of-the art facility and allow our care to meet the demands of our community.”
The project includes a complete re-organization of rooms within the department, effectively changing work “flow.”
“It will give us larger rooms with dedicated barriers and monitoring equipment that can be dedicated rooms for our resuscitation and trauma patients, minor treatment rooms, gynecological rooms, psychiatric rooms and counselling rooms,” Hussey said. “Many of these we don’t even have right now, and the ones that we do, they will be greatly upgraded.”
Refining the layout is expected to improve the timeliness of care.
“It will improve the safety of our patients and staff and improve the privacy for patients as well,” Hussey added. ”And, overall, it will improve our ability to care for our patients, especially in times of crisis.”
Minister Lake (left) and Dr. Jeff Hussey
The next step is procurement, with construction estimated to begin next summer and occupancy in early 2020. The project is expected to create 60 direct jobs and 40 indirect positions.
With the new ER addition, two trauma bays will be created, as well as five fast-track examination spaces, one consult room, a procedure room, a covered ambulance area and a new electrical system. Existing spaces will be upgraded to include a redeveloped airborne isolation room and contamination room, and seven redeveloped urgent care treatment bays.
The ER project follows the recently completed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) renovations, which cost $1.8 million (the province invested $1.3 million). Healthcare staff and patients have been occupying the second floor wing since early March.
“I toured Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in late 2016 and saw the need for this redevelopment first hand,” said Minister Lake. “A new emergency department, as well as the recent ICU improvements, will help to improve care for the most critically ill or injured patients from across the region and create an improved working environment for the health professionals who care for them.”
The West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District board of directors has been collectively advocating for the project, recognizing the important role KBRH plays in health care for residents in the region, said board chair Aimee Watson.
“We are pleased to be a partner in funding for our regional hospital on major upgrades that are essential to long-term health care in the Kootenay Boundary.”