Planning for a new Lady Minto Hospital emergency department got a boost last week with a commitment from the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation to spend funds needed for the project’s schematic design and design development stages.
At an extraordinary general meeting held Thursday, Lady Minto Hospital Foundation Society members approved using $1.5 million from the foundation’s endowment fund in order to get the project rolling. The motion passed by a 23-2 vote.
Emergency department expansion will see a 5,400-square-foot addition to the hospital at a preliminary estimated cost of between $8 and $10 million.
“This is an important step forward for a project that Salt Spring Islanders need and want,” said LMHF chair Derek Fry after the meeting. “The existing ED is too cramped to meet the emergency and urgent care needs of a community of 10,000 permanent residents plus our summer visitors.”
While Island Health has stated it will fund the operating costs for an expanded emergency department, it has committed no funding for the capital costs. Other major projects on Vancouver Island have taken precedence.
However, the Lady Minto Hospital ED expansion has been deemed a priority by the hospital foundation and its board is confident the required funds can be provided. The foundation currently has $6.5 million in its endowment fund and plans to raise more as needed.
At Thursday’s meeting, board members explained that Salt Spring can either wait indefinitely for its emergency department to be improved by Island Health and Capital Regional Health District funding or commit to covering the capital costs itself.
“Are we going to wait while some of the bigger projects are out of the way or are we going to step up and do it?” asked Fry.
“It’s not [Island Health’s] priority but it’s our priority and we can’t afford to wait,” said board member Paul Oliphant.
For more on this story, see the May 22, 2019 issue of the Driftwood newspaper.