Interior Health looking for hospital builder

Expressions of interest are now being sought from private-sector firms for the expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital.

Expressions of interest are now being sought from private-sector firms to design, build, finance and maintain a new patient care tower and parkade at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Interior Health this week issued its request for qualifications to find companies capable of handling that first phase of a $325-million overhaul at the hospital and looking after ongoing maintenance of the entire facility for 30 years.

The seven-storey tower is expected to boast 26,700 square metres of floor space for ambulatory care clinics, surgical services and 84 single-bed in-patient rooms.

Also included in the project is a five-storey, 500-stall parkade. Both buildings are to be located on the east side of the existing hospital closest to Government Street.

The RFQ closes Nov. 6, and a shortlist of three groups is expected to be completed by January 2015, at which time a request for proposals will be issued that the winners will bid on.

The contract to carry out the work is expected to be awarded in October 2015, and unsuccessful bidders will get $300,000 for their efforts.

Construction should start in February 2016, with substantial completion expected by March 2019.

The second phase of the hospital upgrade will be tendered separately and is expected to begin once the tower is complete.

That later work will see the emergency department quadruple in size, and include renovations to the pharmacy, stores and laundry.

Also this week, the board of the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District approved spending up to $8 million from its $32-million reserve to pay its 40 per cent share of the expected cost to get through the procurement process.

The hospital district, funded by taxpayers in all municipalities and rural areas of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, is expected to chip in another $114 million during construction.

The hospital district board hasn’t yet studied detailed financing options for the local share, so it’s still unclear how much extra it will cost taxpayers.

The private-sector partner is expected to finance the remaining 60 per cent of the project, with the B.C. government then making regular monthly payments to cover debt repayment and operating costs.