Regional hospital awaits ministry decision for sustainability plan

“We can't make any decision positive or negative about the Sustainability Project until we hear from the ministry." - Jane Cusden

Whether the local hospital receives a $40-million facelift or the whole area is granted a new $400-million facility – the matter remains under wraps at the BC Ministry of Health.

The topic surfaced, particularly the potential fate of Poplar Ridge Pavilion, during Monday’s governance meeting after Trail council members were briefed with an Interior Health (IH) services update by Jane Cusden.

“What’s going to happen when Poplar Ridge gets closed,” Coun. Carol Dobie asked the acute health service director of Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH), adding, “where are those people going to go?”

There’s no time frame when the final decision will be reached following the hospital’s Sustainability Project submission last fall, according to Cusden.

And there is a long road ahead for dialogue and planning prior to implementation of changes.

“No decision has been made yet to go forward with the plan to relocate Poplar Ridge,” she replied. “We are still waiting for the ministry to come back and say if we can go forward.”

She said Poplar Ridge won’t be closed, rather it will be placed elsewhere in the community.

Any planning will involve stakeholder and family engagement before the residents are re-homed.

“We can’t make any decision positive or negative about the Sustainability Project until we hear from the ministry and senior leadership in IH are still having those conversations,” noted Cusden. “We hope soon. The next phase would be decisions made to relocate Poplar, but that’s a separate project and we need the decision first.”

Certain KBRH services are currently operating in limited space for delivery, and those areas are the focus of the Sustainability Project, Cusden told the Trail Times Wednesday.

The emergency room, ambulatory care and pharmacy are at the epicentre of the plan. That means Poplar Ridge residents, potentially, would be moved to allow re-configuration for one of those departments in the extended care wing.

“We still have work to do on this and we still have work to do on the options,” she clarified. “This is really just to ease people’s minds that no decision has been made,” Cusden added. “And discussions are being had with the ministry.”

She said if beds are moved from Poplar Ridge, those would stay in Trail and residents would have the option to remain in the city.

“This initial work was really just a space plan,” explained Cusden. “These projects have to go through considerable steps before final decisions are made, and there has to be considerable discussions before we can move forward.”

The plan focuses on how the regional hospital can meet the increasing need for certain services like colonoscopies, gastroscopies, and other one-day procedures.

“Ambulatory care is a growing area of medicine that we need to be able to expand to deliver more of these services,” she said.

Additional room in the emergency department means a better work environment for staff and smoother flow-through for patients.

Another area of growth is the KBRH pharmacy, though space for the service has remained restricted over time.

“Again the hospital has grown and the pharmacy also works with pharmacy issues in other hospitals in the area,” explained Cusden. “So again, it’s having the right sized pharmacy to meet the needs of our population and community, be it at KBRH or any other hospital they deal with.”

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