Doctors want expansion commitment

Doctors at the Penticton Regional Hospital are asking the provincial government for a commitment to the expansion project for the hospital.

Doctors at the Penticton Regional Hospital are asking the provincial government for a commitment to the expansion project for the hospital.

“Our need is desperate and long overdue,” Dr. David Paisley, president of the Penticton Medical Society said in a letter to Premier Christy Clark.

The letter was sent following Clark’s Feb. 15 visit to the hospital.

Paisley said other communities in the region have received much more from the province over the past decade.

This includes projects in Vernon and Kamloops.

“We must have a public and clear commitment from you and your B.C. Liberal party that Penticton Regional Hospital Patient Care Tower will be approved and construction will start as soon as possible. Nothing else is acceptable,” the letter said.

In the latest provincial budget, released last week, the province included $2.3 billion for capital projects at hospitals around the province. The Penticton Regional Hospital expansion was not included.

The project has an estimated cost of $360 million. At present, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has committed $140 million and the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation has committed $20 million.

Organizers of the project are seeking $160 million from the province.

The hospital serves a population base of around 90,000 people.

At present, it consistently operates at 110 per cent of its capacity.

“This is a major hospital and it affects a huge region,” said Janice Perrino, chair of the regional hospital district and executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.

The hospital opened its doors in 1951, when the region had a population of 10,500.

The proposed four-storey ambulatory care tower would include a medical school, surgical suites, outpatient clinics and an oncology centre.

The plan also includes a five-storey parkade to be constructed beside the tower.