Health Equipment Loan Program needs ‘help’ finding permanent home

The Red Cross program that loans equipment by donation, HELP, is still looking for a place to house its service in Grand Forks.

The service is temporarily being housed at Boundary Hospital after having to leave Hardy View Lodge due to maintenance issues.

Lisa Soukoroff, who is program assistant for Canadian Red Cross, B.C. Southern Interior, says that the service is still up and running at the same hours they had operated before, 11 – 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“Volunteers are meeting clients in the lobby and helping them borrow or return equipment,” Soukoroff says.

This won’t last long though as the hospital expects them to be out around the middle of this month.

“The hospital usage is very kind, unfortunately there is a time limit to this,” she says. “So we’re still on the search.”

Soukoroff says they have had some leads come in but haven’t been able to make them work. So the program is still in search of a place to move.

The equipment inventory is being moved to storage in Grand Forks.

“It’s not being moved out of Grand Forks,” she says. “It’s staying there.”

She says volunteers will be able to access that extra inventory by using a Red Cross vehicle for transport of equipment; they can only maintain a small amount of inventory at the hospital. She says that while the situation isn’t good, it’s better than the alternative, which is not being able to even offer the service.

“The hospital is hoping that we’re going to be out by the end of the second week in March,” she says.  “So that again leaves us with two weeks to find a permanent location, or even a temporary permanent location.”

Soukoroff says that the community has been supportive of the programs’ problem.

“I receive calls all the time on, ‘Did we check this space?’ ‘What about here?’ So everyone is very aware of the fact that we’re in this predicament,” she says. “It’s such a vital part of the community for people who require equipment for recovery.”

Soukoroff says the community has been great in their response, they just haven’t had that much luck yet so maybe somebody hasn’t thought about the right place yet.

“I don’t want to think about that but it is a possibility we may run out of options. I’d hate to say we’d have to move out of the community until an appropriate space came along. I would just hate to think of that happening,” she says. “We’re all working volunteers, community members; everybody is working really hard at finding a home for the HELP program and the volunteers there.”

Ingrid Hampf, acute area director for Interior Health Boundary, says that Boundary Hospital has been working with Soukoroff and the Red Cross to find a suitable location for the program to operate.

“Unfortunately Boundary Hospital doesn’t have that space that would meet their needs,” Hampf says. “We certainly aren’t going to move them out in mid-March if they don’t have a permanent home; our goal is to work with them to finds suitable space in the community that would meet their needs and provide access.”

Hampf adds that in the interim Boundary Hospital will continue working with the Red Cross to make sure that Grand Forks and the surrounding community have their needs met by the HELP program.