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Hospital district asked to pitch in over $3M for Similkameen generators

The requests are part of $6.1 million in funding sought by Interior Health
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Princeton hospital

The Okanagan-Similkameen Hospital District is being asked to pitch in over $3 million to meet requests from Interior Health for funding for backup generators.

The generators would include one for the South Similkameen Health Centre in Keremeos, one for the Summerland Health Centre and a second additional generator for Princeton’s General Hospital.

The generators account for just over half of the $6.1 million in capital funding requests from Interior Health for the Hospital District. Meeting that capital funding request would equate to a significant increase in how much is required to be raised through taxation or borrowing from the residents in the hospital district.

The hospital upgrades in Princeton are the largest chunk of the costs, with the second generator and increases to a previously approved backup generator installation adding up to just over $2.8 million from the hospital district.

IH is also asking for an additional $120,000 to meet rising costs for installing the generator in Summerland, and $700,000 to install a new backup generator in Keremeos.

The generators are required to meet CSA standards and accreditation for healthcare facilities, the board was told.

Princeton Mayor and district director Spencer Coyne questioned whether continued funding of upgrades for the Princeton General Hospital was “chasing good money with bad,” and called for talks to consider a whole new facility.

“This is a terrible building, it did its job in the day,” said Coyne. “[The generators] are another example, we’ve been spending all this money on upgrades and we still have asbestos in the building, we still have all these other issues, we haven’t upgraded the emergency room, we’re still strapped for space. When are we going to sit down and have a discussion about the actual needs of the community because the community is growing and this building is not going to keep up.”

The total combined price tag on all the requests of $6.1 million set off alarms for several members of the regional board.

“We’re getting backed into a corner here. We don’t have the funding to continue paying for these requests without borrowing significantly, which we don’t want to do right now with the higher interest rates,” said Martin Johansen, RDOS director and chair of the hospital district. “We don’t want to do significant tax increases. We’re all trying to find a way through this because we all care about our residents and our health care facilities because we want the best.”

The board ended up asking staff to prepare a draft budget meeting all of Interior Health’s requests to see what the impact would be on residents.

The board also asked Interior Health to come back with details on whether the soon-to-finish tower project at Penticton Regional Hospital will end with a surplus budget, which could be used on other projects.

IH was also asked to come back with a list of projects from their request that could be dropped or pushed in order to make a reasonable budget.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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