Hospital foundation takes on ER expansion

Agreement with Island Health to inform next steps

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The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation is advancing plans to build a new emergency room for its major beneficiary, outlining what can be expected next during its annual general meeting on Sept. 20.

The charity dedicated to raising funds to enhance hospital services and facilities on Salt Spring hopes to lay the groundwork for a facility upgrade of $5 million or more. The idea is to move the ER into a new wing, to be constructed where the upper parking lot is now, and to separate the ambulance entrance from the front door serving non-emergency traffic.

Newly elected board chair Derek Fry said the upgrade will provide much-needed improvements that will benefit patients as well as medical staff.

“Everyone loves Lady Minto, but when you’re walking in to do some blood work and get run over by an emergency vehicle, you wonder if it’s supposed to work like this,” Fry said.

A motion tabled at the AGM would commit $1.5 million of foundation funding to the next phase of ER project development. Members asked the board to wait to receive a memorandum of understanding from Island Heath before going further. Ongoing communications with the health authority suggests that agreement will be forthcoming, however.

“There are a lot of things that don’t get done efficiently because of the lack of space in the existing ER [although] they are doing what they can fantastically,” Fry said. “Island Health are keen for us to do this.”

While there is no capital funding earmarked for Lady Minto for at least the next two to five years, Fry said the health authority has always been receptive to the expansion as long as it doesn’t have to pay for it. The foundation therefore put $34,000 into a feasibility study last year and will commit to financing the building with Island Health’s agreement to fund the increased operating costs. 

The proposed addition would be approximately 5,400 square feet and would take about three years to design and build. Fry said the foundation and Island Health will conduct a careful review of the design to ensure that the cost is as low as possible without negatively impacting the functional requirements before going ahead.

Once the MOU is received, the next step will be to be order schematic drawings providing a general view of the components and the scale of the project. The schematic design phase is projected to cost $320,000.

The proposed project would then be submitted to the Island Health board and subsequently the provincial government for approval, including Island Health’s agreement to meet the increased operating expenses.

It’s estimated the design development phase afterward will take about one year at a cost of $1.2 million. This step will produce the construction documents that will be the basis for tendering construction.

The eventual building will require a major fundraising campaign and the board will also be seeking a contribution from the Capital Regional Hospital District Board. Total project costs may be as high as $8 to $10 million.

For more on this story, see the October 3, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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