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Working With Key Community Groups Is The Key To Creating Community Success

By Balwant Sanghera

Richmond Hospital Foundation has been doing an excellent job in raising awareness about the needs of the hospital. This includes donations,advocacy and resources forthe hospital. In this process it has enlisted very strong support from various community organizations, individuals and businesses. India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas came on board last year. In order to learn more about the current condition of the hospital and the proposed acute care tower,Richmond Hospital Foundation led by President and CEO Natalie Meixner invited members of this place of worship for the Sikh community on Richmond’s Highway to Heaven to visit the hospital. Consequently, a delegation from the Gurdwara led by President Sohan Singh Basi arrived at the hospital on the morning of Friday, April 7. It received a very warm welcome from representatives of Richmond Hospital and Richmond Hospital Foundation.

Earlier, the hospital administration and the Foundation had kindly agreed to add Punjabi signage to the existing English and Chineseg language signage throughout the hospital. The delegation expressed its thanks and appreciation for Punjabi signage.

India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas has been an integral part of Richmond for more than 30 years. Last year, in co-operation with Richmond Hospital Foundation, the Gurdwara congregation raised $31,500 for the proposed acute care tower. Chairman Asa Singh Johal, a well-known philanthropist and regular donor to the hospital, donated $10,000. Thus, a cheque for $41,500 was presented at the Gurdwara to the Richmond Hospital Foundation by Mr. and Mrs. Johal   on August 31, 2016.

Hospitals play a very important role in the lives of people they serve. However, over time, as the population grows and the buildings get old, and need frequent renovations, upgrading and even replacement. Richmond is a case in point.

Richmond Hospital has been serving this community for over half a century. It has top notch and most dedicated professionals and support staff. However,  the facility isno longer able to meet the needs of the community. Also, the population of Richmond has increased considerablyfrom 50,000 to almost 220,000since the hospital was built 50 years ago. Richmond Hospital Foundation has been doing an excellent job in fundraising and other activities for the betterment of the hospital. Planning for an acute care tower with the most modern equipment and facilities is very timely. Of course, such a huge project will require a lot of financial and moral support from the community. With the help of some very generous donors and the community, the Foundation has raised close to $25 million so far and has been working hard to raise a lot more.

As a result of very strong support from the community, the Ministry of Health will be allocatingup to $3 million to support the development of a business plan once the concept plan is approved. This is very encouraging news. Once the concept plan is approved it will be followed by a business plan. The next step will be the procurement and then construction. If everything flows smoothly the entire process is expected to take from five to seven years. In view of the current deplorable condition of the hospital immediate action is required in this regard. Our guided tour provided some glaring problems and the need to have a new acute care tower soon.

We were informed that Richmond Hospital’s original Tower meets only 17%of current seismic standards, placing 108 beds and 8 Operating Rooms at extra risk in the event of a moderate earthquake of 5 to 5.9 on the Richter scale. Most of the hospital infrastructure is obsolete and deficient. The Operating Rooms are below the flood plain and half the size of current standards. The 50 year old tower has been rated as 79% deficientwith failing systems. Furthermore, the population of Richmond has increased exponentially since 1966. Fifty years ago, the hospital had 132 beds for 50,000 residents. Now it has 233 beds for 220,000 residents. Moreover, the hospital also caters to YVR for any medical needs /emergencies.

The proposed acute care tower for Richmond hospital is one of the most urgent needs of this community. This growing community needs it more than ever and it needs it soon. This can be made possible only with strong support from the community and a firm commitment by the provincial government.

Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.

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