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New hospital surgical suites aim to cut patient wait times

Lisa Beeston, operating room nurse in charge, left, Suzanne Vinden, operating room manager and Paul Gear, anaesthesia assistant, celebrate the campaign kickoff for two new operating rooms for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital on Wednesday. - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
Lisa Beeston, operating room nurse in charge, left, Suzanne Vinden, operating room manager and Paul Gear, anaesthesia assistant, celebrate the campaign kickoff for two new operating rooms for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital on Wednesday.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Two new operating theatres at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital mean more surgical staff can start working regular day shifts and patients will have shorter wait times for elective surgeries.

The additions to NRGH’s surgical wing were announced at a Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation fundraising campaign kickoff Wednesday morning when the foundation pledged to raise $1.5 million of the $3 million bill to finish the rooms and install surgical equipment.

Island Health will finance $900,000 and the Regional District of Nanaimo is chipping in $600,000.

Completion of the project, estimated to be in September, will bring NRGH’s surgical wing up to 10 operating rooms.

The wing was constructed in 2005 with eight operating theatres, plus two additional rooms roughed in for future expansion.

“We know that our donors also support it,” said Maeve O’Byrne, foundation president. “In fact we have a number of donors who are literally waiting for this announcement, so that they can make their contribution to the campaign.”

One of the new operating theatres will be used for emergency surgeries and the second used as a “swing room,” where operations can be scheduled in during busy periods when other operating rooms are being cleaned and prepared for new cases. Some surgeries require an hour of cleanup afterward.

Suzanne Vinden, operating room manager, said the operating theatres aren’t intended to increase numbers of procedures – about 14,000 operations per year are performed at NRGH – but will get patients into surgery more quickly and home sooner.

“I think the swing room will actually help us get our existing elective surgeries through in a more timely and efficient manner because in the swing room you can start to get one surgery ready while the other room’s being finished and cleaned,” Vinden said.

Lisa Beeston, operating room charge nurse, said the added facilities will allow surgeons, nurses and other staff and patients to have surgeries performed at appropriate times of day, which will help prevent staff burnout.

To learn more or to make a donation, please call 250-755-7690 or visit www.nanaimohospitalfoundation.com.

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