Hospital board reviews 2015 priority projects

About $1.5 million worth of upgrades are on the list of potential projects at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital this year.

The regional hospital board can’t do much about a bedside manner, but they can do a lot about a bedside monitor.

About $1.5 million worth of upgrades are on the list of potential projects at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) this year, including a new system that would directly feed a patient’s vital signs from bedside to the nursing station.

The $435,000 upgrade would continuously monitor blood pressure, temperature, blood oxygen level and heart rhythms. The data would be sent to the hospital’s central system then displayed in real time, and alert clinicians if certain parameters fall outside of acceptable ranges.

The system would replace replace the 13-year model now in use in KBRH’s post anaesthetic recovery and surgical departments.

Other suggested improvements include replacing the 50-year electrical network in the hospital’s lower main vault and south block for $647,000; sewer upgrades, $300,000; $95,000 for renovations to the laundry area; and a new ultrasound for diagnostic imaging department.

Following the first meeting of 17 new directors on the 30-seat West Kootenay Regional Hospital District (WKRHD) board last week, a $7.7 million list of projects is on the table for the 2015 budget.

The hospital district’s portion would be just over $2.3 million (up to 40 per cent) for new construction and equipment costs, recommended by Interior Health (IH) at the board’s Jan. 28 meeting in Castlegar.

“We are not looking at separate items, we are looking at the whole request,” said Marguerite Rotvold, hospital board chair. “We’ve given staff direction to bring back, to our February meeting, the tax requisition implications on the amount requested,” she explained. “Once we get the financial impacts to all residents in the region, we will make the decision on it.”

The biggest ticket item, and first priority this year, is $3.6 million in upgrades to the emergency power system at Kootenay Lake Hospital.

The board would have to approve it’s share, or $1.44 million, to add a second generator and replace the electrical distribution system and automatic switch transfer in the Nelson facility.

“Part of this was done last year,” said Rotvold. “But they have to have two generators for back up, not just one, to guarantee safety of patients in case of a power outage.”

A further $1 million of new equipment in the $5,000 to $100,000 range is identified under the global grant category for all facilities within the hospital district.

The board currently has about $7.8 million in cash reserves, with a statutory cap of $10 million.

“It sounds like a lot, but not when you look at the costs of planning for a new facility or the next phases of construction and emergency items,” she said. “If a boiler went in the Trail hospital, for example, we need to have reserve funds to use toward that.”

With the lions share of budget going toward capital projects in the two larger facilities, Rotvold said the board requested that IH conduct a rural needs assessment for health centres in Kaslo, New Denver, Nakusp, Grand Forks and Castlegar.

“We are asking what they (IH) sees as the needs and importance of those rural facilities because most of the money has been going to Trail and Nelson,” she noted.

Last year, the board prioritized an upgrade to the Arrow Lakes Hospital emergency department, but IH did not include the project on this year’s list.

“The smaller sites provide primary care and stabilizing of patients before they are transferred to the larger centres,” said Rotvold. “We decided to ask IH to help us make decisions pertaining to facilities, because the smaller facilities are a priority.”