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Operational needs, patient care take priority when it comes to repairs at Corner Brook hospital

Jason Rowsell, Western Health’s regional director of physical infrastructure support, manages the maintenance needs at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook. Currently there are some $8.6 million worth of repairs needed at the hospital.
Jason Rowsell, Western Health’s regional director of physical infrastructure support, manages the maintenance needs at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook. Currently there are some $8.6 million worth of repairs needed at the hospital. - Diane Crocker

The building is nearly 70 years old, but Jason Rowsell feels Western Memorial Regional Hospital will be able to continue to function well for the next five years as a replacement for the regional facility is built.

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If there is anyone who knows the ins and outs of the building, it’s Rowsell, Western Health’s regional director of physical infrastructure support.

Recently a CBC report highlighted that the Corner Brook hospital was one of 10 health facilities in the province that could do with some repairs — $8.6 million worth to be exact.

The figure was listed as deferred maintenance and Rowsell said that is something the health authority manages year in and year out through a five-year predictive plan based on the age of the building and its infrastructure.

Rowsell said the hospital does a good job with preventative maintenance, but there are some things that can’t be predicted.

The areas where repairs are needed are wide ranging — everything from heating, ventilation and cooling systems to electrical upgrades, repairs to the loading dock, flooring throughout the building, walls and lighting issues.

Rowsell said a new transfer switch, for when the hospital has to switch to generator power, has already been installed and work is ongoing on an electrical upgrade. These are things that are priorities from an operational standpoint.

Areas that are critical to patient care also take priority.

“Those are things we deal with right away,” he said. “We’re still a hospital until 2023.”

So with five years before the new hospital is slated to open, Rowsell said that means his department will have to look at each situation either through forecast — the regular life expectancy — or as it arises.

For example two years ago there was an issue with leaking windows on the west side of the building and the decided remedy was to caulk them.

“We knew that was a temporary solution, but it certainly held well and will hold well until the end of this building.”

If the life expectancy of the building had been another 20 or 30 years the solution would have been different and the windows replaced.

“So it’s simply a matter of making sure within our fiscal responsibility (that) we make the best decision given the life of this building.”

As another example he looked to the light fixtures above him, and said ballasts have to be replaced and are dealt with on an ad hoc basis as they fail.

“We’re certainly not going to go and refit the entire building with lighting knowing that we’re never really going to reap the benefits of that investment.”

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