A campaign to raise $20 million to purchase equipment for a new Penticton hospital tower could also set a new standard for fundraising in the region.
“To our understanding it’s the most ambitious (campaign) in the Okanagan ever,” said Janice Perrino, executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.
“We feel very confident that the community can do it, but we’re also very aware this is going to take a lot of work and a lot of commitment from the community.”
The drive won’t get underway, however, until the B.C. government approves funding for the proposed tower, which is expected to cost $300 million.
Perrino is optimistic that announcement could come this spring, but in the meantime, she’d like people to begin considering a donation to the campaign.
“What we’re finding is people who are interested in making a substantial gift need time to think about it,” she said.
“Those kinds of pledge gifts we can certainly take when they’re ready.”
The fundraiser is expected to last five years and will be the sole focus of the foundation, which just completed a $1.5-million effort to buy new X-ray equipment for Penticton’s hospital.
The extended duration of the next campaign will allow more flexible options for giving, Perrino explained, like donating annually towards a large lump sum.
“I had somebody phone me and they’re looking at making a gift of, say, $50,000 a year, that kind of thing,” she said.
Smaller amounts will be appreciated too, she continued, and naming rights for the building, wards or individual rooms will also be available.
“There’s lots of different ways to donate, but one things that’s for sure is it will allow the hospital here to buy the equipment they want to buy,” Perrino said.
“Everything from big machinery right down to the keyboard that works that machinery. It’s the whole package.”
Besides the foundation’s $20-million pledge, another $120 million has been committed by the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District, the board of which is chaired by Perrino.
“Part of the reason we did is because we knew it would be tougher for the province to say no,” she said. “It’s very hard to turn down a community when you have major support behind it.”
As conceived, the four-storey tower would feature surgical suites, outpatient clinics, and an oncology centre, and a five-storey parkade would go up beside it. Perrino said the project’s business case is expected to be ready by March 1.
Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said his government remains committed to the project.
“The hospital is going to get rebuilt. The process is taking place,” he said.
Ashton would not, however, commit to a timeline for funding approval, although he noted it’s been “a very positive process” to date.
“My hat’s off to Janice and the people she works with,” he said, “but really to the people of the South Okanagan-Similkameen who have shown on a continual basis their support for the hospital.”