The East Kootenay Foundation for Health is celebrating a key piece of equipment in the fight against COVID-19 that was purchased two years ago following a generous donation from Kimberley Health Care Auxiliary.
That $83,700 donation, made in December 2017, went towards a Polymerase Chain Reaction Machine (PCR), which is capable of testing and identifying various viruses and bacteria with a 24-hour turnaround right at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
Little did anyone know the world would be facing a global pandemic two years later.
Before the acquisition of the PCR, samples would have to be sent to Kelowna or Vancouver, which would sometimes take up to seven days to get lab results. Now, the EKRH can identify viruses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or bacteria such as C. difficle and MRSA from blood cultures, in less than a day.
Hospital staff emphasized the importance of the PCR in a letter to regional EKFH donors, noting that it is saving lives.
“We cannot overemphasize the impact of this gift, without which we would have continued to wait for testing performed at Kelowna General Hospital or the BC CDC [Centre for Disease Control] in Vancouver,” reads the letter, signed by Dr. Launny Lowden and Sandra Marshall, a pathologist and medical lab technician, respectively. “By allowing rapid confirmation and rule-out of COVID-19, we are able to better manage patients while conserving important resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and negative pressure isolation rooms.
“This testing guides infection control and public health interventions in our hospitals, long-term care facilities, and even work camps, and has truly saved this region.”
Brenna Baker, the executive director of the EKFH, thanked supporters and donors of the ongoing efforts to upgrade and acquire equipment for the hospital in Cranbrook and health care facilities around the region in communities such as Kimberley, Invermere, Fernie, Sparwood, Creston, Elkford, Golden and the Columbia Valley.
“This letter is a testament that donors are making a huge impact on our hospitals,” said Baker. “Even though we aren’t asking directly for COVID support, we are still actively fundraising for ongoing important projects throughout the East Kootenay such as the SPECT CT for the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
“We will also be kicking off an Ultrasound campaign for the Elk Valley Hospital in the upcoming months. Donations at this time are very important in order to continue the work that we do.”
The EKFH is close to its goal of $1.2 million as part of the SPECT CT campaign, with only $50,000 more to go.