When the CT scanner finally arrives at Kootenay Lake Hospital

When the CT scanner finally arrives at Kootenay Lake Hospital

Hospital foundation ponders surplus scanner fund

Nelson’s new CT scanner is going to cost less than expected, leaving the Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation to decide what to do with a surplus of funds raised.

The imaging equipment, which the community donated $1.5 million to buy, will actually come in at about $1.1 million, the foundation recently learned.

According to Interior Health, competition between three suppliers who submitted quotes and the fact they bought two identical units — one for Nelson, one for Cranbrook — kept the price down.

Now the foundation has to figure out how best to deal with the leftover money.

“We have a number of options,” says chair Pat Dooley. “We’re still talking about it, but the one we like best is a contingency fund to enhance the CT scanner and diagnostic imaging in general, in consultation with medical staff.”

Alternately, they could buy other major equipment.

Dooley says they have already advised their major donors of the windfall, and depending on the route chosen, would clear things with them first.

“Our big commitment is to work with Interior Health and the donors and medical staff to determine the best use of the money,” she says.

Dooley adds that while it’s important to ensure the integrity of the foundation in whatever they decide, dealing with surplus funds is a nice problem to have.

“We view the savings as good news for our community,” she says. “Certainly we can look at the best thing to do with it. It’s all about our board’s strong commitment to being true to what the money was raised for.”

Although the hospital foundation limited its contribution to $1.5 million, Dooley figures if the scanner had cost more than expected, there was enough community momentum to top up the fund.

As it stands, she says the board is firm that the extra money will not be spent on operating expenses.

The foundation will discuss the matter again at their next meeting on March 7, and in the meantime is investigating the rules around surplus funds for foundations.

Work on the scanner suite and major upgrades to the emergency room continues, while the scanner itself is expected to arrive in the spring.

The scanner will be available five days a week to start, although Interior Health says that may increase depending on use.

Hospital foundation director Brian May notes that Salmon Arm — which was about a year ahead of Nelson in raising money for a CT scanner — also began with a Monday to Friday daytime shift, with emergency support in Vernon.

However, with an increase in experience and available technicians, they will begin 24-hour emergency coverage on April 1.

THE NEW CT SCANNER

• An 18-month campaign raised $1.5 million for a General Electric 64-slice computed tomography scanner. The cost was based on Interior Health estimates.

• The hospital foundation received over 3,000 donations. Over 30 per cent of the funds came from seven major donors.

• The scanner’s actual cost will be about $1.1 million. It will be invoiced at $963,000 while support equipment and furnishings will be another $111,000.

• Among other features, the unit has software to create 128 images from 64 rows of detectors and will “dramatically lower radiation for patients without compromising the images doctors see.”

• The scanner will capture any static organ in a second; scan a patient from head to toe in five seconds; and capture 3D images of the heart and coronaries in five heartbeats or less. Clear images will be possible at sub-millimeter resolution.

• The new emergency room and CT scanner suite are expected to be complete by this summer, with the balance of the project finished by the spring of 2012.

— Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation