Regional hospitals get funding infusion

Northwestern Ontario hospitals are getting cash infusions from the province to help keep their services alive and well after Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford announced millions of dollars in funding this week for the general hospitals in Dryden, Kenora and Fort Frances.

Dryden Regional Health Centre is getting nearly $835,000 to support what Rickford calls “critical upgrades and repairs,” including the final stage of a medical vacuum replacement and the replacement of a chiller unit in the hospital’s HVAC system.

The medical vacuum equipment “has a wide range of applications,” Austin Madussi, the hospital’s facilities director, said in an interview Thursday.

It’s used to remove fluid during surgery, he said, so it’s “a quite critical piece of equipment.”

“This is very important,” Madussi said. “It enables the effective delivery of services in the ER, for example.”

A reliable HVAC system is also crucial to hospital care because medical rooms must be kept within an optimal range and there are strict temperature rules governing the storage of medicines, he added.

The government also announced just over $1 million in funding for upgrades at Kenora’s Lake of the Woods District Hospital this week. Kenora hospital CEO Ray Racette said the funding means the hospital can now complete renovations to its busy emergency department.

Described by the hospital as a “multi-phased project,” emergency department renovation at Lake of the Woods includes changes to the nursing station, medication room and utility room. An ambulance offload area has already been completed as part of the project.

The next stages will include a redesign of the waiting area, said Charlene Kissick, the hospital’s brand management lead.

On Thursday, Rickford announced more than $380,000 in funding for upgrades at La Verendrye General Hospital in Fort Frances.

The funding is part of the provincial government’s investment of more than $208 million to hospitals and other health facilities across Ontario through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund and the Community Infrastructure Renewal.

“Our government continues to provide health care partners in the Northwest with the support they need to address infrastructure upgrades and renewal projects,” Rickford, who is also minister of Indigenous Affairs, said in a news release.

Rickford also announced millions of dollars in annual Land Ambulance Service Grants throughout the Northwest region.

Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source