Hospital facilities review meets with mixed reaction
It looks like the Kootenays are finally getting the hospital review that’s been discussed for months here in the tri-city region, and it may completed as soon as Nov. 30 of this year … what remains unclear is whether the scope of the study will take an adequate snapshot of the area’s capacity and needs.
Trail city council Robert Cacchioni, also a member of the West Kootenay Regional Hospital District (WKRHD) board, said the Interior Heath Authority (IHA) informed the board of a facilities review they hope to have done by the end of next month, examining the condition of existing hospitals and what will be required to maintain those hospitals to standard.
“They gave very little information about the particulars of the study,” he said, adding he also doesn’t know if resident needs and demographics, or historic patient levels and requirements will be factored into the review, either. “We (the WKRHD board) passed a motion asking IHA to provide us with a copy of the parametres of the study.”
He said a number of people, including himself and Nelson mayor John Dooley, expressed concern, as well, over the brevity of the study, which is to be conducted over the span of just two weeks.
“When you’re looking at potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of investment flowing from that study, I don’t think that’s adequate time,” he said.
The study, part of an ongoing province-wide facilities review, assesses hospitals using a mathematical formula that assists officials in determining the condition, longevity and maintenance requirements of hospitals throughout the region.
When asked if he’s concerned that such a review will see resources for the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (WKBRH) diminished in favour of other hospitals in the region or even a new hospital, Cacchioni said he thinks it’s an unlikely eventuality.
“Sure, it’s a concern – we have the regional hospital here and I’d like to see this hospital upgraded and as much work done to it as possible,” he said, adding the province’s financial position and current political instability, with an election looming, make it unlikely we’ll see a new hospital now, or any time in the foreseeable future. “I don’t think there’s an appetite within the provincial government to spend that kind of money.”
He said even the barest-bones of a new hospital would cost upwards of $300-$400 million, which seems an extravagance given the WKBRH, Nelson’s hospital, and all the satellite facilities serving smaller communities throughout the region.
The Trail Champion has submitted a request to IHA for more specific details of the study – be sure to check back for more information.