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Interior Health Approves EKRH Master Plan to Upgrade Oncology and Pharmacy

Interior Health is moving forward with a Master Plan of East Kootenay Regional Hospital, moving up the timeline for renovations to the hospital’s Oncology Unit and Pharmacy.

While Dean McKerracher, Chair of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board (KERHD), has been advocating for renovations or replacements of East Kootenay Regional Hospital’s (EKRH) Oncology, Pharmacy, Laboratory, and Dialysis Units for the past couple years, Interior Health has approved the $400,000 Master Plan for only two of the requested units.

Interior Health had previously told the KERHD Board that a Master Plan of EKRH was needed before proceeding forward with any projects, which the KERHD had agreed to contribute 40 percent of project costs no matter the price tag.

Again advocating for health care improvements at meetings with Interior Health in Kelowna back on October 31, 2018, McKerracher said they eventually decided to push the Master Plan forward in 2019.

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“I explained our situation that we were in and that we had the finances to go forward and that we were willing to step forward and do whatever we needed to do to get the projects going,” McKerracher told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “I guess over a couple of weeks, and after I left and a few more phone calls that I made during that time, they met with the board and their senior management team and decided this project should go forward.”

Although the announcement is good news for EKRH, McKerracher said he still wants Interior Health to add the Dialysis and Laboratory onto next year’s Master Plan to make further progress on the four proposed projects.

“They all have to be revisited and remodelled and built upon and so why would you do a study for only two, when eventually, in the next year to two to three to four years you’re going to have to develop those anyway, so let’s do that study now.”

As well, McKerracher would like Interior Health’s request for proposal (RFP) to look at other potential upgrades at EKRH that may be needed.

“While we’re doing the Master Plan study, let’s review what services we don’t have that we could have,” said McKerracher. “If that means adding more space and more specialists and more staff, then that’s a good thing, and that’s a better service for our citizens in our region.”

Todd Mastel, Director of Business Support with Interior Health made the Master Plan announcement to the KERHD Board on Friday. Mastel told the KERHD that Oncology and Pharmacy are first on the Master Plan due to the small size of the current Oncology Unit, while the national standards require mandatory upgrades to the Pharmacy by 2021.

“This just pushed our projects forward another year I would suggest because we were looking at 2020 to even do the Master Plan study, probably, and then 2021 to start the development,” said McKerracher. “It has to be finished by 2021, so all of our projects will go forward.”

Assisting where he can with the EKRH Master Plan, McKerracher said he will push to have as much information and data included as possible when the RFP goes to tender this week.

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