Interior Health’s new CEO Chris Mazurkewich made a point of stopping in Trail Tuesday to speak with hospital staff and elected officials.
A tour of Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital gave him a real snapshot of what infrastructure improvements need to be made, with the hospital’s Sustainability Project submission still pending.
The plan puts emergency, ambulatory care and pharmacy at the centre of an upgrade to the regional hospital with Poplar Ridge residents potentially moving to allow for reconfiguration.
“I don’t know if that’s the final resting point when I walk through the hospital,” he said. “I think that’s a good start, but we have to get it approved.”
Mazurkewich, who was appointed CEO in October, just finished speaking with elected officials, updating them on the plan, or rather lack of one at this time.
Trail Mayor Mike Martin was among the group that was expecting some guidelines from the Ministry of Health on moving the project forward to the next stage of planning. But instead he found that the plan was sent back to Interior Health (IH) for the health authority to investigate whether they could fund the $40-million facelift. The conclusion was that IH could not do it solely at this time since several other projects are in the pipeline.
“There was clear recognition on the part of Interior Health staff that the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital is desperately in need of upgrades to the ambulatory care, emergency and pharmacy areas,” said Martin.
He had meetings last year at the hospital board level but also more recently in Vancouver in the fall, when there was no indication that this project was not moving forward.
“It is so important to our community, and we feel a little bit let down,” said Martin, who was assured that IH does consider the improvement a priority but how it’s approached is the question.
Mazurkewich indicated that improving the culture of a hospital can often be tied to infrastructure improvements, which also is a tool when recruiting professionals.
A doctor shortage is on his radar, and he is following closely to see how nurse practitioners working in the Interior can help alleviate primary care pressure.
“We’re seeing that there has been a well-documented physician shortage, plus the lifestyle changes with physicians as well, and so we’re seeing that in a number of communities,” he said. “It’s not just unique to Trail; it’s not unique to the Kootenay Boundary.”