Despot presents year end report of hospital district to RDOS directors

Outgoing hospital chair Walter Despot summarizes hospital district activity for 2011

  • Nov. 29, 2011 7:00 a.m.




The 2011 fiscal year has presented the hospital district with an assortment of issues and challenges. Considerable effort as being expended towards getting PRH designated as I.H’s primary major capital project in 2012-13. The Ambulatory Care complex is now called the “Patient Care Tower.”

The PRH occupancy rate is currently in excess of 110 per cent and is rising annually. With our demographics of a very high over 65 population, we in the hospital district must stay focused on our increased health needs of our patients at PRH, and all the other health facilities in our district. New and enlarged Ambulatory Care (Patient Care) spaces will see inpatient admission pressures relieved. Patient flows and controls in the units will lead to greater improved patient safety and much more efficient utilization of staff time.  Day surgeries account for about 75 per cent of surgeries.  The sixteen plus clinics being located together in pods will provide better patient privacy, more efficient storage and supply services and integrating systems to achieve a holistic  acute care facility.  This project aligns with the Ministry of Health Services vision of sustainability and sending the rising cost curve of health services downwards.

During 2011 the Master Site Plan was completed at two other major hospitals in Interior Health. This is the type of competition we must be vigilant of, and be prepared to compete with in the future. The Penticton Master Site plan was done in 2002 and our functional programme was completed in 2008.  The conceptual plan was commenced in March of 2011, with $700,000 in funding from the hospital district.  This conceptual plan is being completed now and hopefully the business case will be commenced in 2012.

For future capital funding the ministry, as advised by the province, is looking at a revised capital prioritization process for B.C. We will probably see a provincial committee made up of representatives from all ministries. This will be more politically challenging for our hospital district.  The ministry is working towards having all publicly funded, buildings reviewed and assessed in the next five years. This will lead to new guide lines on capital investment priorities in health and other provincial ministries.

I am most concerned with concentrations of health services in Kelowna. Our regional hospitals and smaller acute care facilities are potentially falling behind with services upgrades. We should not be concentrating in just one location, this leads to further urbanization and the degeneration of smaller centers like Princeton and Oliver. Recruiting and retaining professional staff for rural communities is becoming increasingly difficult, it is complicating to meet our staff needs when the necessary personnel is not available in our society.

The regional hospital districts cost sharing review with the province and health authorities has been underway for several years.  There has been 11 recommendations put forward and final approval should be attained in the spring of 2012.  We must continue with open lines of communication with Interior Health and work with them co-operatively to attain the health service expectations of our citizens.  Our individual communities must become involved with chronic disease management and planning of strategically needed community health programmes.

Increased ENT surgeries at the Summerland Health Center have maximized surgical time available in Summerland.  With ENT surgeries being done in Summerland, Penticton Regional Hospital has been able to perform more joint surgeries with this extra availability of operating room times.

For the fiscal year 2011-12 the capital funding requests is $1,172,400.00.  This included Summerland electrical system upgrade, South Okanagan General Hospital physiological monitoring system, and upgraded   radiographic equipment, Penticton Regional Hospital elevator modernization, transformer replacement and physiological monitoring system.  The MFA principal payment was $265,000, for 2011 and MFA interest was $505,000.  The hospital district has not taken out a debenture since 2003.  The regional hospital district budget for 2011 was $4,660,000. Over the past five odd years the hospital district has contributed to system upgrades in all our facilities, including generators, sprinkler upgrades, boilers, building maintenance, oven replacements, washer extractors, fire alarm systems and window upgrades.

• In December 2010, a letter went to the Provincial Government seeking support for the Penticton Regional Hospital upgrade.

• In January 2011, Dr, Halpenny, the deputy Health Minister and two ADM’s toured PRH to see firsthand the needs for major upgrades.

• In March 2011, all regional directors, mayors, and First Nation bands forwarded a letter to the provincial government urging them to support the PRH capital programme.

• In March, The first meeting of the Ambulatory Care Steering Committee took place and the sign off on the patient care tower, (ambulatory care), took place in June.

• In May and June, the hospital board endorsed supporting South Okanagan Hospital in their quest in obtaining 24 /7 emergency room coverage.  The method of payment was the issue for the Oliver and Osoyoos physicians. A delegation met with the Minister of Health in Vancouver and I believe the group made the point as the ministry formulated a plan for all smaller emergency rooms to receive needed funding to operate efficiently.

• In June 2011, the board had a presentation from B.C. Ambulance service to discuss patient transfer systems, which includes helicopters.

• In September 2011, hospital district and regional district delegations met with Mr. Embree and Dr. Halpenny at UBCM to again review the need and importance of the proposed patient care tower in Penticton.  We also discussed shortage of doctors to cover the emergency department at Princeton General Hospital.

• Once again, the board sent another letter to IH with all board signatures on it, urging them to move forward with presenting the PRH project to the Ministry of Health  for construction.

•  In October 2011, the board received a presentation from IH on a probable design for the Penticton Patient Care Tower.  This was very informative and the board is waiting to see if the proposal will receive backing of IH and be forwarded to the ministry.  A major challenge in our pursuit of PRH upgrade is the current lack of funding for major capital projects.

• I was pleased to have had a tour of the newly opened five floor tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Features included small privacy cubicles in emergency using glass.  The rooms on floors four and five have large windows, which again will improve patient well being.  All areas have large well marked supply areas, wide hallways, ample hand washing stations and very relaxing co-ordinated colors.

• In 2012 PRH will be having a high acuity response team, based in the South Okanagan/Similkameen.

In closing, I truly want to thank all the staff that I have worked with these past seven years, as Hospital Board Chairman.  Excellent staff makes our jobs much easier.  I want to thank my colleagues on the board for allowing me to serve as chairman, and supporting me over the years.  I truly believe the board has been proactive and has functioned well for our taxpayers and the fact we are building a cash reserve for the future and have not taken out a new debenture for eight years is indicative of such.

To all, thank you, and good luck in the future.

– Walter Despot