More than doubling the size of the morgue and replacing Diefenbaker-era elevators are two projects on the books for Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH).
Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee listed the morgue and the elevator upgrade as part of a list of $4.5 million in capital investments in Fraser East in a letter dated March 4, 2019 to Paul Gipps, chief administrative officer of the Fraser Valley Regional District.
The letter was sent from Lee to Gipps with the request, part of normal procedure, that the Fraser Valley Regional Hospital District would share in 40 per cent of the costs, for a total of $1.8 million.
Currently the morgue at CGH is “a dated cold-storage holding facility that is beyond repair” with space for just eight individuals.
“Currently, placing deceased patients in the morgue can take up to 30 minutes as staff are required to move all decedents to achieve the maximum eight morgue spaces,” according to Lee’s letter.
“The capacity of the morgue will increase… to 18 Standard plus six Bariatric plus Code Orange overflow.”
Code orange as utilized by the Ministry of Health defines “disaster or mass casualties.”
Cost for the morgue upgrade is $528,000.
“This investment in CGH will improve patient care and safeguard staff for the next 30 years,” according to Lee’s letter.
Anyone who has ridden in the oldest elevators at CGH may have noted it resembles something out of a horror movie with its tiny size, metal doors and dated buttons.
Elevators number four and five will be upgraded at a cost of $750,000 for the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
“These elevators were installed in 1960 and last upgraded in 1984,” the letter states. “These elevators cannot be relied upon to function reliability [sic] nor repaired if they fail as troubleshooting intermittent failures even for relays requires sourcing and buying used or third party parts.”
Indeed, on a visit to CGH on April 23 elevator four was out of service.
“As previously communicated, as long as the equipment purchased with contributions from the FVRHD has a remaining useful life, Fraser Health guarantees none of that equipment will be relocated to facilities outside of the Regional Hospital District jurisdiction,” Lee wrote.
Other items on the Fraser East capital projects list include: endoscopy cleaning room upgrade at Abbotsford Regional Hospital; dish room renovation at Fraser Canyon Hospital (FCH); nursing station replacement at FCH; nurse call system upgrade at Fraser Hope Lodge; fire alarm system upgrade at Fraser Hope Lodge; in addition to $1.565 million of equipment from between $5,000 and $100,000 for five hospitals in the region.
The hospital board will decide whether to approve the standard funding request at its April 25 evening meeting.