The Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District will ask Interior Health to apply to the provincial Minister of Health to have the Martin Street urgent and primary care centre in Penticton designated as a hospital under the Hospital Act.
But during the same meeting, the hospital district denied Interior Health’s request for $1 million to assist with the funding of that facility.
The $1 million in funding represented 40 per cent of the total $2.5 million cost of the facility, which opened March 31.
“Once fully staffed, the Urgent and Primary Care Centre will provide urgent and primary care services to people living in Penticton and the surrounding communities,” stated a letter to the health board from Interior Health.
“It will reduce wait times, increase access to primary care, reduce workload for Interior Health staff and physicians, reduce congestion in the emergency department and improve patient flow.”
Dan Goughnour, corporate director of business operations with Interior Health said the funding was a one-time request for the capital component of the facility.
But Katie Robinson, a Penticton councillor on the hospital district board, had concerns about the ongoing costs of the facility.
“Once we designate it a hospital, we’re going to be on the hook to pay for it,” she said. “We’re talking about millions of dollars each year.”
She added that there has been a lack of communication between the parties involved in this health facility.
Doug Holmes, a Summerland councillor, was also disappointed with the communication surrounding the request.
The vote to declare the facility as a hospital under the hospital act and the request for funding both received some opposition from the 19-member board. The hospital designation was approved in a 12-7 vote, while the funding request was denied 9-10.
In the discussions about the funding, Subrina Monteith, the representative for Electoral Area I, said ratepayers have not been approached for their feedback on the funding decision.
The 2021 Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Health District budget had been adopted and submitted prior to the most recent request for funding. The total capital approved in that budget was $2,561,000, after the district board voted to reject close to $1.4 million in Primary Care Network funding for unspecified projects.
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