Decision on Penticton hospital tower expected within weeks

Health Ministry says government funding decision expected by the end of June

Artist's rendering of a proposed ambulatory care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Artist's rendering of a proposed ambulatory care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital.

A funding decision for the proposed expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital could come by the end of the month.

B.C. Health Ministry spokeswoman Kristy Anderson said in a statement the business case for the estimated $300-million project is “currently being finalized” and should be submitted to government “in the very near future.”

“We expect government to complete their review and make their decision by the end of June,” she said.

Janice Perrino, who has led the push for the new ambulatory care tower from her position as chairwoman of the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District, was pleased to learn a decision is close.

“I think it’s the best news we have received to date,” said Perrino. “I couldn’t be more excited.”

While local officials initially expected the business case to examine just the plan for an ambulatory care tower and parkade, Perrino said, the planners actually drilled down much deeper.

“They’ve been working together with every single department in the hospital to take us back to: Is what you’ve got enough? If it isn’t, was is it you need?” she explained. “They know what these things are like. They’re trying to make sure they build the right hospital so they do it right the first time, and that’s good. Remember, we’re serving 90,000 people.”

Anderson wouldn’t say how ambitious a project the business case will recommend.

“We look at all areas of a hospital as we develop a business plan to make sure it meets the needs of the population well into the future,” she said. “We’ll provide more details on project and scope once the business plan has been reviewed and approved by government.”

The initial concept plan upon which the business case was built called for a four-storey ambulatory care tower that would have space for a medical school, surgical suites, outpatient clinics and an oncology centre, plus a new five-storey parkade nearby.

Based on a $300-million build, the hospital district has committed $120 million, while the local hospital foundation has pledged $20 million, leaving a $160-million funding gap for the B.C. government to fill.

According to Perrino, it would be the highest-value development ever seen in the South Okanagan.