Hospital renovations focus in 2004: Woods

After having to do a lot of work just to get ready for the project last year, Riverside Health Care Facilities finally will see Phase IV renovations begin at La Verendrye Hospital here in 2004.
“It’s going to be the big thing this year. We’re hopeful to get the shovel into the ground in the spring,” Riverside CEO Wayne Woods said yesterday.
“We’re currently reviewing the contract proposal before us with a fine-tooth comb,” he noted. “We’ve known who the company doing the work might be, we just can’t say at this point.
“It’s just a matter of making sure we’re getting exactly what we want right now,” he added. “If everything works out, we figure the company can begin at the end of March or the start of April.”
But even after the $10-million project gets underway, Woods admitted hospital staff and administration have a big job ahead of them.
“There’s a lot of phasing that has to take place. It’s going to be delicate work to change things around while continuing to offer our services—we can’t exactly close down during the renovations,” he remarked, adding the work is estimated to take 18-24 months.
The extensive job will include improvements or total overhauls to the X-ray department, emergency room, operating rooms, and lab.
The expansion also will include re-locating the dialysis unit and possibly getting a computerized tomography (CT) imaging unit, which has the ability to image a combination of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels.
The first stage of the renovations will be expanding the parking lot to make room for employee, visitor, and contractor vehicles, as well as a structural expansion of the hospital to the south.
Riverside Community Counselling Services and the Valley Diabetes Education Centre recently moved from their former buildings located east of the hospital to the old St. Mary’s rectory parish (see story elsewhere in this week’s Times).
Another undertaking in 2004 will be the strategic plan the Riverside board of directors and staff will work on.
“We’re starting this at the end of the month,” said Woods. “It’s something we do every two years, but aside from the renovations, we really want to make it the main thrust this time around.
“We’re really going to be looking at how we can work better with our community partners, like Rainycrest and the various mental health programs,” he added.
As for 2003, Woods said it was a significant year for the health care field in general.
“We’ve had to be wary of a few things, including SARS, that previously we didn’t have to be,” he remarked. “I think it made us realize it’s time to do things differently, to change the way we conduct business.”