Despite its disappearance from the headlines, a health official assured local politicians this week that the proposed expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital is still on track.
Lori Motluk, a senior administrator at PRH, on Thursday told the board of the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District that work on the project’s $2-million business case is proceeding as planned.
She said a local steering committee and three design companies have already had upwards of 100 meetings with hospital user groups, from doctors to maintenance workers, to help flesh out details of the proposed four-storey patient care tower.
According to Motluk, a lot has changed since a concept plan was completed last year, including new guidelines that mean the equipment sterilization department will now require around 1,000 square meters, about three times more than previously thought.
“That’s a big piece of space, so that’s really changed our flows, how staff’s going to work and what’s required,” Motluk said.
“There’s just a small example of what’s happened in the last 18 months and how it impacts the design.”
She said the business case is also being compiled with a 15-year horizon in mind so that it can be adapted for technological change, like a possible shift to self-registration for patients.
“That’s being used in many places in Canada, so we’re anticipating that perhaps by the time this building is built, that technology might be something we have here,” Motluk said.
The concept plan for the tower, which envisions surgical suites, outpatient clinics, an oncology centre and a five-storey parkade beside it, put the price at $300 million, but Motluk declined to provide an updated cost projection.
“Numbers are still pretty soft and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to throw them out,” she said.
Motluk said the business case is on track to be completed in early spring 2014, when it will be sent to the B.C. government for a funding decision. Construction would start about 18 month later and is expected to take three years.
Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino, who chairs the hospital district board, acknowledged the business case will likely be submitted after the government’s budget is released in February. But she’s optimistic some money will be set aside for the project.
Premier Christy Clark said in March her government had “notionally” identified funds in its 10-year capital plan.
Based on a $300-million build, the hospital district has already committed to funding $120 million, while the hospital foundation has pledged another $20 million, leaving the province on the hook for the balance.