The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)

Martin Street care facility finally gets funding from hospital district

Interior Health had been requesting funding for months for the facility

In a decision that split the members of the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District board, $1 million in funding was approved for Penticton’s latest care centre.

The Martin Street Urgent and Primary Care Centre has been before the board since before it was announced, which led to its initial rejection by the board due to not having clarity on where the funds that Interior Health was asking for would go.

READ MORE: Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District reverses funding decision on care centre

During the Aug. 19 meeting of the SOSHD board, multiple directors voiced their concerns over what they saw as a centralization of hospital services in the district.

Other members took issue with the nature with which the request for funds was presented to the board.

“Just on principle alone I’m going to vote against this as I did the first time,” said director Katie Robinson. “It’s amazing to me that anyone is in favour of this. We have a health authority that goes ahead and builds whatever they want to with no participation from the RDOS and elected officials and then stick out their hands and ask us to pay for it.”’

RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell reminded the directors that the board retains the ability at any time in the future to reject requests for funding.

Other directors expressed their support for the funding, which is the RDOS’s portion of the capital costs of developing Martin Street, as a way of providing alleviation for the high demand on the Penticton Regional Hospital’s services.

“I voted last time around in favour for the urgent care facility in Penticton because it helps the people in Area G,” said director Tim Roberts. “We’ve been averaging 200 to 220 calls a month at the ambulance station in Keremeos, with each one taking up to three hours, and one of the biggest things that adds time is trying to get in through the ER.”

At the end of the debate, the vote was 12 directors in favour of granting the funding and six opposed. Those opposed were directors Robinson, Doug Holmes, Martin Johansen, Subrina Monteith, Rick Knodel and chair Karla Kozakevich.

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Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District