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Hospital foundation calls for action on expansion at Royal Columbian

The Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation is at the starting gate but is getting tired waiting for the province to open it.

More than 18 months ago, Fraser Health sent an expansion concept plan for Royal Columbian to the Ministry of Health, said foundation president and CEO Adrianne Bakker. Fundraising for it is something the foundation is eager to begin, because to complete it would take five to seven years.

“It’s a long overdue expansion. We’ve been waiting and waiting to get a long-term plan for Royal Columbian,” said Bakker. “When is this going to happen? We see the hospital in the news with overcrowding all the time.

“We need [the health ministry] to step up and support the Fraser Health plan to redevelop the site. We need to significantly upgrade our beds. The capacity just isn’t there.”

Bakker said the recent incident where the emergency department was forced to use the Tim Hortons café next door further highlighted the fact not only is emergency overcrowded but so is the rest of the hospital, and has been for more than 10 years.

More beds in the hospital would enable emergency physicians to admit patients to a room instead of treating them in emergency or a hallway.

Bakker said the foundation’s board has “ramped things up a little bit” to try and get the province to move on it.

“The board felt we needed to say something because we don’t feel Fraser Health is getting the answers they need,” said Bakker. “This needs to happen. We don’t want to see it not happen so we’ve decided to become more vocal about it now.”

She said the expansion is needed not just for New Westminster but for all the communities throughout Fraser Health, because RCH serves as the hospital where the most critical trauma, cardiac and neurosurgery patients from throughout the region are sent.

“The more critical cases have to come here,” said Bakker.

The Ministry of Health said it is still researching the Fraser Health concept plan.

“This is a significant undertaking involving a significant capital investment that we must properly assess,” said a ministry spokesman in an email. “We are carefully reviewing this proposal, and will need to balance any decision along with other capital requests submitted to the ministry.”

He also said the opening of an outpatient care and surgery centre in Surrey will help alleviate some of the patient traffic at Surrey Memorial and RCH.

•••••

Sales for the foundation’s B.C. Vacation Home Lottery are under performing, admitted Bakker. It’s the first time the foundation has decided to go it alone with a lottery instead of hooking up with other hospitals such as Surrey Memorial or Peace Arch.

“It has been a little more challenging than we anticipated,” said Bakker.

However, she remains positive it will be sold out by the April 7 deadline. Bakker said the foundation hopes to raise $1 million to support the hospital’s trauma care. For details see www.bcvacationhomelottery.com.

ggranger@newwestnewsleader.com

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