A group of 120 doctors, surgeons and specialists working out of the Penticton Regional Hospital have banded together out of desperation to urge government to fulfil plans for a hospital expansion that has been planned for over ten years but still has not received the funding needed to go ahead.
“We’re on the cusp of a crisis here and we need the government to fulfil promises made a decade ago to deal with massive overcrowding and out-dated facilities,” says Doctor David Paisley, spokesperson for the group, which has formed as the Penticton Medical Society. “We were identified as the number one priority for the region years ago, but as of yet none of the funding has come through and three other hospital projects (expansions and upgrades in Vernon, Kamloops and Kelowna) have been given the go-ahead and have been built or are being built – including a $200 million project at the Kelowna hospital that includes a huge administration block. We need space for patient care and we need it now.”
Currently, the Penticton Hospital, which was constructed in 1951 to service a population of 10,000 is bursting at the seams, with specialist services placed in areas that were never designed for. Current statistics show that the hospital is operating at 107 per cent capacity, and now serves a regional population of more than 90,000 residents. Despite the growth and demand, doctors at the hospital are still treating patients in small rooms that were designed to accommodate the current technology, which is considered standard of care now. The building’s layout forces patients to walk long distances– carrying oxygen tanks and IV stands – along long hallways for tests and scans. The hospital administration have been doing more ‘nip and tuck’ than a busy Hollywood plastic surgeon to ensure quality of care, however, there is only so much that one can do with the physical constraints of the building.
“We are doctors, not politicians, not lobbyists, but we’ve been forced into speaking out because there is a major catastrophe on the horizon. We simply don’t know what else to do at this point,” says Dr. Paisley. The doctors have taken the unusual step of calling a town hall meeting to alert residents of the South Okanagan, Similkameen region on the critical natural of the situation and how important the proposed Penticton Regional Hospital Patient Care Tower project is to local health care. The meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 6:30 pm at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre (273 Power Street, Penticton).
The South Okanagan, Similkameen has the oldest population in Interior Health region; patients requiring services are becoming older, have greater co-morbidities, and will require close coordination. This can only be achieved through the consolidation of services proposed in the Patient Care Tower. With a construction timeline of 5 years, work must begin now to protect patient care in the long term. For information, visit www.prhtower.ca.