Penticton hospital campaign puts focus on upgrades to X-Ray department

Image is Everything campaign aims to raise $1.5 million to purchase three new X-ray machines for Penticton Regional Hospital

Glen Nicholson

Glen Nicholson

The vision of a new tower at Penticton Regional Hospital is slowly becoming reality, but a fundraising effort underway now is aiming for a much quicker turnaround.

It began last week with the launch of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s new Image is Everything campaign. Its goal is to raise $1.5 million to purchase three new X-ray machines and renovate the rooms in which they’re to be housed, plus add a new portable unit.

“We sat back and really tried to say, ‘What would help?’ And that’s when it came out that if we had this technology, then it would help give more timely, accurate and safe testing for patients and families,” said hospital administrator Lori Motluk.

The old machines still use cassettes similar to camera film that take time to process, digitize and share. The new machines will produce digital images that can be quickly enhanced and distributed.

“It’s where (health-care technology) is going and we’ll be on the leading edge,” Motluk said.

The new equipment will stay in the rooms currently assigned to the X-ray department, and won’t move to the planned patient care tower, Motluk said.

In the run-up to the May provincial election, the spotlight was turned on PRH, which doctors have said is overcrowded and outdated. The proposed four-storey tower filled mainly with outpatient services is seen as the cure. A business case for the structure, estimated to cost $300 million, will get underway soon.

And even though the new equipment isn’t destined for the tower, Mark Ziebarth, who’s leading the campaign for the hospital foundation, said he’s still hoping to capitalize on the tower’s publicity.

“Businesses love to have visibility, our foundation loves to have visibility, and the hospital can benefit by that,” he said.

“We’re drawing more attention to the hospital and the needs that exist now, even before the new tower, which we hope to break ground on in the next few years. But we may not. Who knows?

“What we do know is within the next year we can have completely new X-ray machinery for everyone.”

The Image is Everything campaign has already raised $850,000, which includes a $300,000 commitment from the Summerland Health Care Auxiliary and a $25,000 commitment from the Peach City Tees Up For Cancer golf tournament.

With some money already in the bank, the first machine is expected to go in this fall, and the rest by June 2014.