Hospital work progressing on schedule

The $14.5-million Phase IV renovations at La Verendrye Hospital here are moving along according to schedule, with more than 85 percent of the job done and February targeted as a completion date.
“We’re pretty excited about it. It’s been a lot of work for a lot of people,” Larry Cousineau, chair of the Riverside Foundation for Health Care, said during a tour of the hospital on Monday.
“In our minds, it’s a real accomplishment,” added Cousineau, stressing the money district residents have been generously contributing is being used to purchase medical equipment as well as help build a state-of-the-art facility that will provide better secondary care services, such as dialysis, obstetrics, surgery, and chemotherapy, to everyone—not just Fort Frances residents.
In fact, the Foundation recently transferred $1.5 million to Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. for the completion of the Phase IV expansion at La Verendrye.
“We’re just excited about how everything is moving along here,” enthused Cousineau, adding the two-year Phase IV renovations are on schedule, “which is unusual for a project like this.”
Foundation director Teresa Hazel noted there has “not been a lot of cost overrun.”
For his part, Riverside CEO Wayne Woods said some aspects of the work have taken longer than expected while others moved along more quickly—evening things out on the timeline.
Hazel said staff are “very pleased with the facilities,” especially because there have been “no surprises” regarding their new work spaces (hospital staff have been consulted through the renovation process).
In just one example of this input, when it was being determined where electrical outlets in the walls should be, staff were consulted because they knew exactly where the equipment that would be plugged in would be located.
“The staff is very ‘up,’” echoed Cousineau, adding they’ve been very understanding of having to work around all the construction—and seeing departments shift from one part of the hospital to another all while continuing to provide patient care.
“They could see the light at the end of the tunnel all along,” he noted.
Hazel added doctors also are pleased with the modern facilities. For instance, Dr. John Porter, the orthopedic surgeon who has been performing knee-replacement surgeries here, said the new operating rooms at the hospital “are second-to-none.”
The extensive list of renovations under the Phase IV project includes:
•a laboratory;
•a renal dialysis unit;
•three operating rooms;
•a diagnostic imaging department (including services like x-ray, ultrasound, mammography, and fluoroscopy);
•day surgery;
•a patient files department;
•a chapel;
•staff change rooms; and
•a new emergency department, including a new canopy on the ambulance ramp, reception area, waiting area, trauma room, and restricted access ambulance entrance.
With the exception of the emergency department and chapel, all of these areas have been completed.
Currently, emergency is located in the new day surgery while day surgery is located where it always has been. Once the new emergency is completed, ER will be relocated there and day surgery will move to its new location.
These renovated areas not only have been given a new, modern look, but built to better accommodate staff (for efficiency) and patients (for privacy and comfort).
They’re also stocked with state-of-the-art equipment.
More generally, the security system at the hospital has been upgraded, with video surveillance and an electronic access system, requiring people to have passes to get into certain areas.
Those people without clearance just won’t be able to get in—ensuring the privacy and safety of staff and patients alike.
As well, new behind-the-scenes equipment has been installed at the hospital that most people will never see, such as the large $500,000 machinery that powers the reverse osmosis process used in the renal dialysis unit located in an adjacent room.
A few areas also have been left empty in the hope Riverside will be able to utilize them in the future for services such as a $1.5-million CT scan the hospital is applying for.
“I think it’s important people know there’s this kind of long-term planning involved in these renovations,” said Hazel.
The Phase IV work, which is being funded by the Ministry of Health, Riverside Foundation, and Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., got underway last April and originally was slated to take between 18 months and two years to complete.
A grand opening, complete with public tours, is slated for May.
In related news, Cousineau said the Foundation is stressing the funds it raises go towards district-wide care—not just the residents of Fort Frances.
The Foundation now holds its monthly meetings alternately between Fort Frances, Emo, and Rainy River, and is looking for more input from the rest of the district.
And since April, the Foundation has had hospital auxiliary representatives on its board of directors from each of the three district health centre. It used to just have one individual representing the auxiliaries collectively.
The Foundation’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. at the Emo Health Centre.