The regional hospital district board has set a precedent for funding health projects in the corridor after agreeing to pay more than 50 per cent of the cost of Whistler’s new CT scanner project.
The decision raises the hospital district’s contribution to $1.21 million, up another $700,000 as of last week’s board meeting. That’s more than the traditional 40 per cent contribution the hospital district kicks in for other projects.
“Raising our contribution that significantly does set a precedent which we’re not really comfortable with, but on the other hand the longer we delay the project, the higher the costs are going to be to complete the project,” said Susie Gimse, board chair of the Sea to Sky Regional Hospital District (SSRHD). “It’s not a decision we made lightly.”
The funding also comes with two significant conditions.
The first condition is that the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA), which has not put any money towards the capital costs of the $2.37 million CT scanner, takes on the responsibility for any future cost overruns on the project.
The board has also stipulated that money be set aside from the revenues generated by the scanner and go into a reserve fund for future costs.
“What we recognize is that a CT scan in Whistler will be a huge revenue generator for the health authority because of all the out of province patient contributions,” said Gimse. “The board felt that since, in fact, we are raising our contribution that we want the health authority to start establishing a fund that would see a percentage of those revenues that are generated from the CT scan go into a capital reserve. It just recognizes that there’s likely going to be future costs associated with this CT scan.”
According to Viviana Zanocco, spokesperson with the VCHA, the health authority is not aware of any conditions imposed by the hospital district.
“As far as I’m aware, those two conditions are not part of it,” she said.
“We’re happy with the vote… Until the hospital district lets us know ‘this is what the conditions are’, then we can respond.”
The board’s decision, made on Monday, Feb. 25, was welcome relief to Marnie Simon, chair of the board for the Whistler Health Care Foundation.
Fundraising efforts from health care foundations in the corridor brought in over $1 million and the SSRHD committed an initial $500,000 but it was still far short of the project costs.
“We’ve been lobbying the regional hospital district for quite a long time,” Simon said this week.