Celeste Hilton, business manager of the Victoria Heart Institute Foundation, said the office had three-week’s notice that they have to move (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria Heart Institute Foundation gets three weeks’ notice to move

The local research facility needs to be located near the Royal Jubilee Hospital

Boxes are piled high into rooms usually reserved for patients at the Victoria Heart Institute Foundation.

The local non-profit runs research studies with patients receiving treatment for their heart from the Royal Jubilee Hospital, located just across the street from the 1900 Richmond Ave. location.

Staff knew that eventually they would have to move; the building they have been in for over 25 years was purchased by Milliken Developers, and is slated to become a private assisted-living facility for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. But, they didn’t know that they would be moving so soon.

READ MORE: Victoria medical building to be demolished for seniors care facility

“We knew our lease was ending in April, but our understanding was that we could then pay on a month-to-month basis until we’d finished our negotiations with the place we wanted to move into,” said Celeste Hilton, business manager at the VHIF.

“I reached out to the developer to ask something about the parking here, thinking we’d be here for a few more months just because we needed to get the other space sorted out still, and his response was ‘well I don’t know why you’re asking about parking, because we’re expecting vacant possession at the end of April.”

That left the VHIF three weeks to pack up the office, find a new space and negotiate a new lease. While this is difficult at the best of times, the VHIF needs to be close to the Royal Jubilee to accommodate nurses, physicians and patients who travel between the two sites.

The space Hilton had been looking at was nearby, but negotiations were taking too long and the office ended up picking a new location an additional 10-minute walk from the current site, a total of 15-20 minutes from the hospital. While usually an extra 10 minutes isn’t much, for medical staff it can make all the difference.

ALSO READ: Developers say a false Victoria Hospitals Foundation endorsement was a mistake

Sheryll Sorensen is a clinical research nurse at VHIF. She helps conduct research studies and travels between the hospital and the office an average of two to three times per day.

“It certainly is going to make it a bit more difficult for us,” Sorensen said. “If we have a longer walk to get to the hospital, we’re less likely to come back and forth between patients…it’s a huge waste of time that we’re being paid to walk back and forth.”

Depending on the day, Sorensen can expect to use an extra hour of her time walking back and forth between appointments. She, five other nurses and three fellowship intervention cardiologists would all need to do the same thing, as would patients with heart problems.

Driving isn’t usually an option for hospital staff because parking is so restricted at the hospital.

Regardless of the struggle, however, Hilton is happy they were able to find a temporary location. The VHIF took up a 27-month sub-lease for an office at 300-1640 Oak Bay Ave., and will move in at the beginning of May.

They will wait and see how the space works, and keep an eye out in the meantime.

“We’re a very resourceful group, you have to be in research,” Hilton said. “Research is ever changing, so you have to be able to adapt.”

For more information you can visit vhif.org

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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