Photo by Grant McDaniel -- Cathy Chisholm (far left), facility manager at the Strait-Richmond Hospital, visited Inverness Municipal Council last Friday. She was asking what Inverness County could do in terms of funding the development of an ambulatory care unit at Strait-Richmond Hospital.

PORT HOOD: Representatives from Strait-Richmond Hospital crossed county lines in order to make a funding request of Inverness Municipal Council.

“We’re looking to develop an ambulatory care unit at Strait-Richmond Hospital, and in order to achieve that we have to redesign our emergency department and have some other renovations,” said Cathy Chisholm, facility manager.

Chisholm fleshed out the current issues with the hospital’s emergency room department, which had 10,549 visits in 2016-17.

“We’re mixing ambulatory care patients – who are generally healthy and just there for a treatment – with people who are there with influenza and other illnesses, infectious diseases, sitting in the same waiting room,” she said. “The other issue is that the emergency department at Strait-Richmond currently has no washrooms in the department itself. In the corridor leading into the department is where the washrooms are.”

The triage area is exterior to the ER, which doesn’t support the concept of “nurse-first.” The Nova Scotia Emergency Care Standards note that a trained health care provider ought to assess patients as soon as possible. The care team work station is also a concern at the hospital, as the design isn’t particularly functional, said Chisholm. This can have an effect on nurse recruitment.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority is onside with having the renovations done and the ambulatory care unit set up, and private donor Joe Shannon committed $300,000 for the ambulatory care space. The foundation is matching Shannon’s funds. A second potential donor is looking at helping out, and the Nova Scotia Health Authority committed $185,000.

To have all the work done, the price tag is in the ballpark of $2.3 million. That would include setting up the ambulatory care area, the renovations for the ER, and revising the nursing unit deskwork.

“We don’t anticipate that we’re going to have $2.3 million before we begin this project, so we’d like to know how much money we have to know how far we can go,” Chisholm said. “That’s a reason I’m here today. The foundation is seeking partners in the community to help with fundraising efforts.”

Council did not commit to any specific funding. Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie noted that, while Strait-Richmond Hospital is located outside Inverness County, many folks from Inverness County use the facility. She and council will have to discuss the matter, she said.

Councillor John Dowling, noting that as the representative for Port Hastings, West Bay, and Judique, the issue is of particular importance to him. He asked how many people from Inverness County use the hospital, and Chisholm said she’d look that information up.

“We’re going to have to have some discussion on it,” she said.