After bouncing from one location to another, the Red Cross Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) is returning to the basement of the Boundary Hospital.
Originally located at the Hardy View Lodge, the HELP program has been relocated three times this year.
“B.C. Housing had invited Red Cross to move in there and we jumped at it because the number of people using the service has been increasing around 30 per cent every year, so we needed more space than what we were in,” explained program assistant Liza Soukoroff.
“The boiler blew at Hardy View and since B.C. Housing was in the process of selling the property anyway they decided they would start up the old boiler rather than fix the one that had broken down,” explained Soukoroff. “(The old boiler) was on its very last legs so we were in a bit of a scramble to find a new space.”
Requirements for the new location included ground level access, parking for clients and volunteers and a location to clean and disinfect equipment.
The second location was found with help from the Credit Union.
“Credit Union stepped up out of their normal funding parameters and provided help with enough rent money for 10 months. Unfortunately, 10 months is up at January,” said the program assistant.
Soukoroff also spoke to Ingrid Hampf, Acute Area Director for Kootenay Boundary, who is supportive of the program.
Hampf was unavailable to comment.
The new location in the basement of the hospital is smaller than the previous two locations, but due to changes in the program, HELP is able to fit inside.
“We have a service delivery renewal planned so what’s going to happen is the majority of the equipment will be picked up through Castlegar,” stated Soukoroff. “Castlegar will be doing the cleaning and disinfecting, the maintenance and repairs.”
Soukoroff pointed out that HELP still needed a weatherproof container to hold all the equipment for clients but Irene Perepolkin, RDKB regional director for Area D, provided the container.
“I responded by saying yes because it’s a really useful service, and I’ve used it myself,” Perepolkin stated. “I’ve known the Red Cross people since they were in the hospital around 10 years ago.”
Area D has a grant-in-aid fund that is granted from taxes for various programs and groups in the area.
“We apportion it to various groups and clients in the area and I saw this as a very important need, so the container will be paid for,” Perepolkin concluded.
Perepolkin also provided signs to the HELP program several years ago.
The weatherproof container will be placed outside to hold all the equipment.
Soukoroff would like to thank the Grand Forks Credit Union, the Phoenix Foundation, and those who helped find a solution for the program.
“The biggest heroes though are the volunteers who have stuck in there and kept things running.”
HELP will be open at Boundary Hospital on Jan. 1, 2012. There will be signs posted to direct clients to HELP’s new location.