Squamish Hospital gearing up for Games 

The role of Squamish Hospital in the 2010 Olympic Games has been more or less established, although some more information on things like elective surgeries and demand on private practices within town are still being established.

Corinne Hamill, acute care services manager and site lead for Vancouver Coastal health updated Squamish council on renovations at the hospital and the Olympic plan on Tuesday night.

"Squamish General Hospital and health clinics at the upper end of the corridor are providing health care to the public and spectators coming to the Olympics," she said. "Athletes and Olympic Family will be going to a poly-clinic in Function Junction for service in the Whistler area, and for advanced needs athletes are going to Vancouver General Hospital and Olympic Family are going to St. Paul's.

"What we're anticipating, looking at other communities that have hosted the Olympics, is that the general public uses the public system less during Games time, while we can expect to see an increase in out-of-country use, so on balance there isn't a tremendous impact on health care services.

"It's similar to Pemberton Music Festival last year when we were anticipating greater use of our health care system but when we looked back it was about the same with fewer residents using the hospital and visitors from outside the area making up the difference."

But while numbers could be roughly the same during Games time, Vancouver Coastal Health also ran a mass casualty exercise to test the command and communication system in case of an accident involving multiple people, a natural disaster, terror attack or other emergency.

"It's about getting staff to know the language, and to get our disaster cabinets ready and stocked, and our plans polished up," said Hamill.

In terms of physician coverage Vancouver Coastal Health is anticipating that there will be less demand for elective surgeries at that time, which means more surgeons will be available to the emergency department. Their estimates are general but Hamill expects to have a better idea in the coming months.

As for the ongoing renovation and expansion of the Squamish Hospital, Hamill says the work is underway to increase the number of treatment spaces from seven to 12, while expanding the waiting room and improving visibility from the nurses' station. They are also creating a triage centre, as well as a new resuscitation room that includes an articulating boom for all of the equipment.

The second phase of the project wrapped up this week, and the final phase could wrap up sometime this year. A separate project to waterproof the roof after leakage last winter has also wrapped up.

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