Penticton, BC: Reaction to the release of the provincial budget from a group of 120 doctors, surgeons and specialists working out of the Penticton Regional Hospital was summed up as “complete disappointment”. The group, who had held out hope that ten years of promises of funding for their hospital for much needed upgrades would be fulfilled in the 2013 provincial budget, was flabbergasted when the priority level one facility was passed over again.
“The Doctors and the community of Penticton are very disappointed, to say the least, that we did not get approval for our project in the budget,” says spokesperson Dr. David Paisley. “We are 100% committed to see this project approved as soon as possible. Where there is a political will, there is a political way. We will not go away as our hospital limitations won’t go away. We will continue to urge the public to urge Ministry of Health to approve this very urgent project. The community is very much behind us. The Premier has seen the conditions we have to treat our patients in, so she is fully aware of our problems we face daily. We believe there is a way to make this project happen and will continue to work at seeing this through.”
The doctors took the unusual step of forming a self-funded association, the Penticton Medical Society, in order to draw attention to the plight of the 63-year-old hospital. Constructed in 1951 to service a population of 10,000, the hospital is bursting at the seams, with specialist services placed in areas that were never designed for that. Current statistics show that the hospital is operating at 107% 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 weren’t designed to accommodate the current technology that is considered standard of care now.
“We were 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,” says Dr. Paisley.
“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.”
The South Okanagan Similkameen has the oldest population in the 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 five years, work must begin now to protect patient care in the long term. For information, visit www.prhtower.ca.