Board ready to shoulder costs to begin KBRH upgrades

“We are making it known that the regional hospital district would be prepared to consider funding 100 per cent for Phase One," said Martin.

The budget process has begun at the hospital district board table

With new faces at the table this year, the regional hospital board has already taken a big step into 2017.

The West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District board announced it is offfering to pay a major portion of the costs to get improvements started at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).

“There was a motion made to actually send a letter to Minister of Health, Terry Lake and to IHA (Interior Health Authority),” began Mike Martin, Trail mayor, director and executive of the board.

“We are making it known that the regional hospital district would be prepared to consider funding 100 per cent for Phase One, the emergency department re-design and expansion at KBRH.”

Estimated at $16 million, Martin was referring to the first stages of the multi-million KBRH Sustainability Plan that also includes upgrades to Ambulatory Care and the pharmacy. The project scope is broad, and could impact the extended care wing of Poplar Ridge Pavilion three years ago costs were projected to be $40 million, so the number will likely climb the longer it takes to get the province on board.

Trail Mayor Mike Martin

Notably, the board’s commitment to the first leg of work comes with a definite condition.

“(That is) provided the ministry agrees to fund the remainder of the project and provide the hospital district with time lines,” Martin said. “So this is a major step forward, major.”

Prior to the motion, the board attended to the first order of business, the appointment of directors, board chair and executive.

And there was a bit of a shake up this year.

Aimee Watson, from the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK), was voted board chair, therein replacing the longtime chair from Midway, Marguerite Rotvold.

The executive team also has two new members. Martin and RDKB director Roly Russell retained their seats, and are now joined by Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak and Walter Popoff from Area H of the RDCK.

Once the annual housekeeping duties were checked off, the 30 directors got to the nitty gritty of Interior Health’s $6.3 million proposed budget for 2017/2018. Covering facilities from Nakusp to Nelson, Trail and Grand Forks, the panel had its first look at IHA’s suggested projects 40 per cent, or $2.5 million falls under the auspices of the regional hospital district.

“We haven’t gotten into the allocation of funding, but IHA presented their capital funding request,” Martin clarified.

While much of the work is across-the-board infrastructure fixes, a large chunk, $1.6 million, is directed toward equipment replacement at the regional hospital in Trail.

“It’s pretty significant for KBRH,” Martin concluded. “This is what IHA is recommending, and the board did have many questions. So they’ll be coming back with a response to those questions at our next meeting in February.”

The main purpose of the regional hospital district is to provide funding for hospital equipment and capital projects. Projects and priorities are proposed each year by IHA, with a list developed in consultation between the IHA and board. The hospital district typically pays for 40 per cent of approved project costs while the remaining 60 per cent is funded by the province or through donations provided by local hospital foundations.

That hospital board’s mission is to determine local property taxpayers’ responsibility for health care matters established by the Hospital District Act within the West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District’s authority. The district board is comprised of 17 RDCK directors and 13 directors from the RDKB.

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