Interior Health recently announced they are taking an important step in improving pediatric care for the East Kootenay region with $750,000 in scheduled improvements to be made to East Kootenay Regional Hospital’s pediatric care unit, according to the press release about the construction tender for the project.
The improvements are relevant to Columbia Valley residents. From January 1st to September 30th, 2016, the pediatric care unit in Cranbrook admitted 22 patients between the ages of zero and 17 from the Windermere and Golden health areas — 15 from the Windermere area alone.
“We are closer to starting work on important enhancements that will create an improved environment for young patients, their families, and those providing their care at East Kootenay Regional Hospital,” said Health Minister Terry Lake in a press release.
Pediatrics is commonly known as the branch of medicine that deals with children and their diseases, and is the type of treatment children receive from the time they are released from the nursery unit after birth to the time they turn 18 to 19 years old.
Currently, the hospital is working with a two-bed pediatric unit located on the third floor of the hospital alongside the General Medical Unit. The new pediatric unit will be in the former second-floor Intensive Care Unit (ICU) space and will be incorporated into the adjacent maternity/neo-natal unit, which will create a combined Maternal Child Unit.
“This new unit will bring the highly skilled staff and physicians who care for our youngest patients into one area and improve the overall service we are providing to these patients and their families,” said IH Board Chair Erwin Malzer.
Karyn Morash, health servcies director at the hospital, said the new areas will meet current pediatric standards, but with separate rooms that will provide young patients and families with more privacy.
“The current pediatric beds are general medical beds,” she said. “These rooms are going to be designed for children with colours, (and) proper pull-out beds for parents to be able to stay with their kids, which is fairly common.”
Of the two private rooms that will be created, one will meet airborne isolation standards to support pediatric patients with contagious or potentially contagious illnesses, giving the overall pediatrics unit a more secure setting, she said.
The Ministry of Health will be providing the majority of the funding for the project with $450,000 allotted towards it. The remaining $300,000 is coming from the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District.
While the new pediatric unit won’t increase the number of beds, Morash did agree with Dr. Chris Pienaar, EKRH pediatric department head, that it will change the unit to be more purposeful and helpful for families and children.
“The new pediatric unit will allow the pediatric care team to better treat the region’s children in a kid-friendly and family-oriented environment,” said Dr. Chris Pienaar in a press release.
Interior Health anticipates that a contractor will be selected sometime this month with construction to begin early in the new year. Over the last few months, Interior Health has been gathering design input from physicians and staff while clearing out the former ICU with the hopes of the new pediatric care unit being operational by the summer of 2017.