Worries about finding land for Penticton Regional Hospital’s expansion have been alleviated, thanks to a gift from a Penticton businessman.
Earlier this week, David Kampe notified the South Okanagan Medical Foundation that he planned to turn over a large section of land across the street from the hospital to it.
“As the hospital thinks about expanding, particularly as our population ages, we need to prepare for the future,” said Janice Perrino, executive director of the foundation. She noted that most health problems happen in the last few years of life, so an aging population means demands for health services will increase dramatically.
“This donor is aware of that, so he made the decision to donate this piece of property to us,” said Perrino. The land is situated at the corner of Industrial and Camrose, the site of an old drive-in.
Kampe gave the land specifically to the foundation to ensure it be preserved for medical uses in perpetuity.
“It is not going to the government; it is not going to Interior Health. It will remain in the hands of the medical foundation, which is a separate society,” said Perrino. “We are an organization that is arm’s length from Interior Health. Our purpose is only to raise funds and support Interior Health as we see fit.”
Kampe did leave the decision for how the land will actually be used up to the foundation. Perrino said it might be used for the ambulatory services facility that is under consideration, a health services building or even a parkade, to free up land on the main hospital site.
“Who knows?” she said. “It will never be sold; it will always be kept as hospital services. It will help to expand our design for the future.”
Kampe approached the foundation with his gift, but most donations come from the campaigns the foundation runs through the year, raising money to help purchase equipment needed by PRH. But Perrino said the foundation’s job doesn’t stop there, which is one reason Kampe chose to entrust it with the land.
“If they (PRH) ask for something, we decide whether we will fund raise for it. We are the guardians of our donors,” she said. “That’s a major part of our work, is to steward donors’ funds and make sure the money is well used.”
An example of that is the millions raised last year to purchase a new CT scanner for the hospital, which Perrino said has catapulted PRH to the forefront of medical care and research.
“Organizations like the B.C. Cancer Agency are asking us if we would step up to the plate to be part of some new research programs,” said Perrino. “They are looking at doing one on prostrate cancer, so they can watch the cancer during the process of treatment.”
The images from the new scanner, one of the most advanced in the world, are so clear doctors can actually see the changes when treatment happens. As the patient is going through treatment, they can track precise changes.
“They want to record that for future data so they know if this medication is working, how well is it working, what is it doing, what isn’t it doing,” she said. “It helps them know better what they are dealing with.”
Kampe’s property has a market value of slightly more than $1.5 million, making it the largest single donation the foundation has ever received. But Perrino said this gift isn’t about the money, it’s about health care and giving back to the community.
“This is what it means to care for your community. This means that forever medical services have been improved by his move today,” she said. “He is an incredibly generous person, he has always put his community first. That, for us, just means everything.”
Kampe’s concern, Perrino said, is about the community and the long-term health care of the citizens.
“Once you start to get to know a donor a bit, you hear other people talk about how incredible they are,” she said. “That has resonated over and over again; what an incredible community person this is.”