Crystal Makereth’s request that planners consider the addition of a physical therapy pool in the new Burns Lake hospital scheduled to be under construction in the spring of 2013 was received by the board of the Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District on Jan. 24. 2013.
Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) director for area B, Bill Miller had previously suggested to Makereth that she make her proposal for a therapy pool public.
As reported last week in the Lake District News, a water-therapy pool would help meet the short and long-term needs of Makereth’s daughter, who will undergo a series of operations in the treatment of her cerebral palsy. She suggested that the pool would also be beneficial to the general physical therapy needs of residents in the Lakes District.
Jared Lalick, a registered physiotherapist with Total Physio out of Houston and Burns Lake, agreed with Mackereth. He said it would be an asset to the region and that it would be kept very busy meeting local needs.
Michael McMillan, Chief Operating Officer for Northern Interior Health, expressed scepticism of the idea that a therapy-pool could be added to the hospital design at this late a date in the bid and construction process.
“It would be a very challenging proposal now, given where we are in terms of the approvals the government has given us,” McMillan said. “At this point it would be exceptionally difficult to add it [the pool] to the project.”
Northern Health is in the final days of selecting one of three design and build teams that had been shortlisted for the project. A final selection is expected before the end of March 2013.
McMillan said the three proposals under consideration are very detailed, including engineering, structural, electrical, and architectural plans. Full construction costing is included in the three proposals, without allowance for significant change from the detailed request for proposals at the base of the construction bid process.
“To add something as complicated as a pool would be difficult,” he said. “It would potentially delay the process. We’d have to give an extension and we need to hit a [weather] window in terms of breaking ground and site preparation. All has to be underway this spring to keep to timelines.”
McMillan added that the addition of a therapy pool, even a small one, would mean something else would have to be sacrificed to accommodate it.
Miller acknowledges Northern Health’s concerns for making significant changes or additions to the detailed design and construction guidelines already in hand.
But he remains optimistic that something can be done.
“You’re going to need quite a bit of public support to get something like this moving forward,” Miller said. “We’ve asked RDBN staff to find out whether there is still an opportunity to have this kind of input into the design and construction of the hospital.”
Miller expects to hear back from staff before the next health board meeting scheduled for Feb. 14, where he expects some discussion of the proposal.