Much-needed renovations to the Arrow Lakes Hospital’s emergency ward are going ahead with the announcement today of $2.1 million in funding for the project.
Calling it a “happy day for Nakusp and the Slocan Valley”, officials with Interior Health, the provincial government and local politicians set aside their differences and were all smiles making the announcement at the hospital this morning.
“I’m really proud to announce the provincial government, along with our partners in Interior Health, and the West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District, are supporting the redevelopment of the Arrow Lakes emergency department,” said Katrine Conroy, the MLA for the area.
The emergency ward, which saw 3,700 visits in the last year, hasn’t been updated since it was first built in the mid-1970s.
Among the work to be done includes a new dedicated triage area; two new trauma bays; renovated patient exam bays with improved privacy; new utility rooms; and an enclosed multi-purpose meeting room near the emergency department for family consultations or waiting space for family during trauma situations.
“My family’s had a lot of health care visits to hospitals and ER, I know how important it is for a family to have a private space in a hospital,” said Conroy. “So I’m very happy to see that part of the process.”
The announcement had been anticipated for several weeks, after intense lobbying by Nakusp Mayor Karen Hamling and other WKBRD officials, who had set the renovations as a priority for four years. Hamling took her case to Conroy after Interior Health insisted local governments pay 100 per cent of the cost of the project. Usually the District pays 40 per cent.
Under the announcement today, Interior Health will pay the other 60 per cent of the cost of the renovations.
Conroy noted the role Nakusp’s mayor and council played in getting the project moving.
“To Mayor Karen Hamling and your council, you have been troopers through all this and your persistence and patience has been exemplary and I want to commend you on your tireless advocacy for the people of Nakusp,” the minister said.
“I don’t like the word tenacious for her because she’s a little too gentle for that,” said WKRBD chair Aimee Watson. “But she is persistent and clear, and knows her work. It wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without Mayor Hamling.”
Hamling took the praise in stride.
“Council and I are very thankful and excited that this project is finally happening,” she said, adding it couldn’t have happened without the backing of the village council for her position.
“[Interior Health Chair] Pat [Dooley] said she was ecstatic, well I am also ecstatic in case anybody hasn’t noticed,” she joked.
Interior Health will start the project design in April 2018 and then move to tender for construction services. It will take approximately one year to complete the emergency department redevelopment from the start of construction.
Work would take place in three phases to ensure ongoing care is provided at the site. The project should be completed by the end of 2019.