VICTORIA -- The Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation has launched an online fundraiser to help provide new medical equipment for the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s (NRGH) intensive care unit (ICU).

The foundation says that the NRGH’s current ICU, which was built in 1970, is one of the oldest in British Columbia and needs to be updated to match the island’s growing population.

The NRGH’s ICU, which has room for 10 ICU beds, is the primary critical care facility for more than 400,000 island residents who live north of the Malahat.

Meanwhile, health-care workers are constantly working around cramped conditions in the current intensive care facility.

“Our place is so cluttered, it’s hard getting around,” said Dr. Michael Kenyon, NRGH ICU medical lead in an Island Health fundraising video.

“We’ve had warnings from fire marshals on a regular basis about clutter in the back hall,” he said.

Despite its age, an external review conducted in 2013 found that the NRGH’s ICU was one of Canada’s top hospitals for positive patient health outcomes, according to the hospital foundation.

In 2018, the B.C. government announced that a new ICU would be built at the hospital at a cost of approximately $33.85 million, which would be shared by the NRGH and the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation.

Now, the foundation is hoping to raise an additional $5 million to ensure that the intensive care unit has the highest quality equipment possible.

“When you or your loved one needs this level of care, it is critical the ICU has the latest medical equipment in a well-designed space,” says the hospital foundation.

Donations to the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s new ICU can be made online here

The upgraded ICU will be three storeys tall and include a clinical space, new patient rooms, private family consultation rooms, staff work areas, a visitor waiting area and increased storage.

Construction of the new ICU is expected to begin later this year.