Lessons learned in CT scanner project 

$800,000 ‘communication disaster’ has brought organizations, sponsors closer together

With construction slated for spring, the end of the $2.2 million fundraising campaign to put a CT scanner in the Whistler Health Care Centre may be getting closer. Yet three months after the increased cost of the project was first announced, community members remain anxious about why the price of the equipment and facility they helped pay for skyrocketed.

As result, major players in the CT scanner project — Francis Halle from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Marnie Simon from the Whistler Health Care Foundation (WHCF) — have stepped forward to discuss the issue.

In a joint interview, the two acknowledged that the increase in the project’s cost is a concern.

Halle even went so far as to call the project a “communication disaster” because the WHCF now has to go back to the community for money beyond the $1.5 million originally targeted and subsequently raised.

“We are working with (the WHCF) to make sure that we are never in this situation again,” he said.

And in response to the community skepticism about what happened with the project, Halle said: “We are concerned that (the community) are concerned. And we certainly understand why they are concerned.”

Simon also stressed that it is important the community understand the WHCF is not spending their donations carelessly.

“From the point of view of our donors who have given money, they need to be reassured that the money is completely earmarked for the CAT scan,” said Simon.

“And it is not just in a regular account, but in a couple of GICs. So it is in a trust, not just sitting idle. It is making a bit of money,” she said.

The approximately $800,000 price jump happened when the project went from the final design estimate to the pre-tender estimate. The architect had originally wanted to put the cooling plant — necessary for normal CT scan operations — on the roof of the health care centre. Unfortunately, the space for the equipment needed to be much larger than the original design accommodated, since the method to cool the equipment was changed.

“We had originally planned to have it cooled via capacity inside the building. But it has to have its own stand-alone cooling capacity,” said Halle.

A new design for the space had to be drawn up, and the CT scanner was moved to the ground floor of the building. A more complicated foundation also had to be designed to eliminate any vibrations that could affect the CT scanner images.

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