New equipment is on tap for Mills Memorial Hospital. (File photo)
There has been nearly $1.5 million in purchases either completed in 2021 or for projects underway specific to Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. (Black Press Media file photo)

New equipment is on tap for Mills Memorial Hospital. (File photo) There has been nearly $1.5 million in purchases either completed in 2021 or for projects underway specific to Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. (Black Press Media file photo)

Medical upgrades on tap at Mills Memorial Hospital

Patient safety, staff retention key to purchase decisions

Terrace and area may be getting a brand new Mills Memorial Hospital and accompanying Seven Sisters mental health residential facility at a combined $623 million, but that doesn’t mean spending has ground to a halt at the current Mills Memorial.

A lengthy and region-wide Northern Health list to the end of November 2021 lays out nearly $1.5 million in purchases either completed in 2021 or for projects underway specific to Mills.

In some cases, new equipment is considered crucial for patient care.

Two Philips Epic ultrasound units were on order as of last year carrying a budgeted price tag of $512,000 and are needed to replace Toshiba units dating back to 2013.

A briefing note indicated the Prince George hospital has the same 2013 Toshiba units with instances “of these machines missing pathology and therefore directly affecting patient care and diagnosis.”

“The reason why we have not seen instances in Mills Memorial Hospital is simply because we do not have another machine to compare the Toshiba to and rescan patients,” the note continued.

“If we do not replace this machine by the suggested time there is a strong possibility that both technologists and radiologists will miss pathology and cause patient harm.”

Using outdated equipment is also considered a problem in recruiting trained people, the memo adds.

Another $182,000 has been budgeted for an automated medication dispensing unit in which medications are contained in locked drawers and released upon the use of passwords or other security measures. Inventory is automatic, reducing the need for manual counts.

“Faced with a growing shortage of qualified health care professionals, patient safety concerns, increased attention from regulatory agencies, mounting financial constraints, and a large geographic area, Northern Health is looking for new ways to improve the quality of patient care and safety, while enhancing employee retention and patient satisfaction,” reads an explanation for the purchase.

It is expected to go into operation by the end of March.

And separately from the above, Northern Health has budgeted $1.749 million for a new pediatrics clinic location.

Called the Sleeping Beauty Pediatrics Clinic because it had been located in a structure of the same name on the hospital grounds, the clinic was moved out last summer so the space could be used as a construction headquarters by contractor PCL.