Renovating the regional hospital in Trail has been a local priority for a number of years, but the $40 million project hasn’t been acknowledged at the provincial level, until now.
The Ministry of Health is being asked to fund up to 60 per cent of renovation costs at KBRH (Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital) – so a recent visit by Health Minister Terry Lake has the district board and Interior Health (IH) hopeful the multi-phased project will finally advance.
“I think it was helpful for the minister to get a first-hand look at what the needs are at KBRH,” says Jane Cusden, KBRH Acute Care Services Director, referring to Lake’s June 20 Trail stopover. “And use that knowledge when weighing our request for KBRH against all the other requests the ministry gets from across the province. The minister has to look at the bigger picture, but overall this was a very positive visit – he asked a lot of questions and listened to what we had to say.”
Lake met with senior leadership and local representatives from the hospital and community during a tour that focused on the three areas of the KBRH Sustainability Plan – the emergency department, ambulatory care and the pharmacy service.
“And he also had the chance to meet with hospital physicians and staff as he toured,” Cusden said. “I believe the minister was very impressed with some of the work happening in the communities with our local GPs through the Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice.”
Additionally, the minister met with the hospital’s plant services manager to talk about infrastructure improvements that need to happen to support these upgrades, she added.
“I think it went very well – we have submitted our plans to the ministry but there is nothing better than the ministry seeing for himself what we are talking about.”
This is the first time a Health Minister has made a visit to KBRH, says Trail Mayor Mike Martin. “He was running a little late but did not shut the meeting down until the discussion was concluded, so he let us have a very good hearing,” said Martin, one of five executives on the hospital board who met with Lake. “I will say we were absolutely delighted to finally get him here and to our knowledge this is the first time in recent history that a minister has visited KBRH – it was a real milestone. We had the opportunity to be well heard and he received the message in a very constructive way.”
The outcome with Lake was twofold. First, the board agreed to explore avenues of funding for the project, and a follow up meeting with the minister was scheduled for the annual September conference of the Union of BC Municipalities.
“I am feeling quite positive because everything is aligned from the point of view that there’s unanimous support from the regional hospital district board and there is total support from IH,” Martin said, mentioning the board met with top IH leaders two days after Lake’s visit.
“We are going to keep the dialogue open with IH and the ministry as a result,” said Martin. “There’s a commitment for further dialogue with Interior Health within the next few weeks.”
Martin pointed out that community support is a key factor in advancing the project.
“That is a huge element in the decision making process,” he concluded. “And it will stay on the forefront because there is total<span class="Apple-converted-s