It seems the monthly newsletters that accompany utility bills from the City of Penticton are read as far away as Victoria.
A copy of the November 2012 issue was included in the package of materials provided to B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid ahead of her Dec. 12 visit to Penticton Regional Hospital. The package was obtained by the Western News through a freedom of information request.
An item on the front of the newsletter urges the public to pressure the B.C. government to provide funding for a $300-million expansion of the Penticton hospital.
Interior Health public affairs manager Darshan Lindsay emailed a copy of that newsletter to Health Ministry communications manager Rodney Porter and other government staff on Nov. 21.
“In light of the pending tour, note on the front page - the city’s exhortation to residents to lobby for the capital project,” Lindsay wrote in the email, which was flagged as being of high importance.
Also included in the documents package were itineraries for MacDiarmid’s tour of the hospital, plus an issues scan on the Penticton hospital capital funding request.
The scan said that in May 2012 the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District wrote to the ministry to “affirm and prioritize its commitment to redeveloping Penticton Regional Hospital.”
It also said an FOI request “noted that Interior Health ranked redevelopment of PRH (as No. 1) on their capital priority list” and that “media expressed concern when the Royal Inland Hospital master plan announcement was made that Penticton was bypassed.”
The RIH announcement in July 2012 provided up to $80 million for preliminary work on an expansion of the hospital in Kamloops, a project that was ranked No. 5 on Interior Health’s wish list.
Below the synopsis of concerns are suggested responses on questions about the issue. They note that the ministry must balance capital requests from health authorities across the province and that even if a project ranks high on a capital list, “that same project may not have the same ranking in the ministry’s plan when all factors are considered.”
The final response adds the B.C. government has put $12 million into upgrades at PRH since 2001.
A second issues scan deals with the death of Alfredo Bonaldi, a former resident of Summerland Seniors Village who was left unattended in his room there while suffering from a suspected case of food poisoning.
MacDiarmid was advised to extend condolences to the Bonaldi family, thank them for alerting the ministry to the situation at the care home and explain the various responses by the ministry and Interior Health.