East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook. Google maps photo

East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook. Google maps photo

Kootenay hospital board wrestles with capital funding budget

Surprise funding announcement from the province last summer impacted budget planning process

The pharmacy renovations at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook will be expanding as part of a series of capital projects approved by the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District (KERHD) Board last week.

Initially budgeted at $1.45 million, the renovations have expanded in scope and require an additional $1.55 million to complete the project.

Todd Mastel, Director, Business Support with Interior Health, told the board that the pharmacy project expanded in scope during the design phase in order to meet regulations and build out towards the future.

The changes stemmed from requirements from the College of Pharmacists that need separate mixing areas that need negative ventilation, negative pressure for sterilization and venting for staff safety.

“Rather than building two separate rooms, we’re actually building four — doubling our capacity in each of those areas, looking down the road in terms of demands of service,” said Mastel.

The KERHD board is responsible for funding $1.2 million of the projected $3 million total. Last year, the board initially approved $580,000 for the project, but will now chip in an additional $620,000 due to the project’s expansion.

Under provincial legislation, regional hospital boards are responsible for funding 40 per cent of capital projects, while the Ministry of Health, Interior Health equity and surplus funds, and support from local foundations and auxiliaries, covers the remainder.

Energy projects removed from capital projects budget

Two energy-related projects requested by Interior Health were removed from the budget following pushback from a few directors who were frustrated that the two items were pitched outside of the budget planning cycle last summer by Interior Health.

Due to some surprise funding from the province, Interior Health proposed energy conservation measures at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, such as upgrading LED lighting, replacing a boiler, increasing kitchen ventilation and adding a solar wall, while also proposing a biomass boiler at the Invermere and District Hospital, and another heating boiler replacement at the Creston Valley Hospital.

At the time, some KERHD board directors were miffed that the request was made after the budget had been approved, ultimately kicking the three items down the road to the current budget cycle.

The KERHD 40 per cent cost share of all three projects totalled $1.8 million.

Mastel told the board that the provincial funding which is tied to a carbon-neutral fund, has been used to start the planning process for the projects, even though the board hadn’t approved them.

Mastel said he recognized the bind that the out-of-cycle funding request put the hospital board in, noting that it was additional funding from the ministry that Interior Health didn’t want to give back.

Capital health care projects get the green light

Following budget discussions, the KERHD board approved just over $3 million of it’s share in spending for capital projects and equipment at health care facilities in Cranbrook, Fernie, Golden, Creston and Invermere.

Some of those projects include planning for increased space at the Golden Health Care Centre, a reverse osmosis replacement system at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, and endoscopy system for the Creston Valley and Elk Valley hospitals, and design work for the East Kootenay Primary Care Network.

Mastel said specific details on the East Kootenay Primary Care Network will be released in the future, but noted that the bulk of the funding will be used to address space needs in Kimberley and Golden.

In total, Interior Health brought forward a capital funding budget of $13.7 million, of which the board mostly approved except for the three energy conservation projects.

The Interior Health Authority has an $84 million budget for capital projects and equipment purchases that will be spread around seven regional hospital districts for the 2021 budget cycle.


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