As long as the money comes through, renovations to the emergency department at the South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver are expected to happen sometime this year.
Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said a letter from the Interior Health Authority was read out at council earlier this week stating renovations to the emergency department have been classified as a “high priority.”
“Our emergency room is active and needed and we’ve heard from doctors that it could be more functional and is in need of updates,” Hovanes said.
Over the past year the emergency side of South Okanagan General Hospital has struggled with a shortage of doctors, which forced multiple closures of the ER.
In November 2017, after hearing IH was working on this year’s capital budget, Hovanes and Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff drafted a letter encouraging the health authority to set aside funds to renovate the emergency department.
“The scope of the work will encompass the development of a new waiting and triage area, separate public emergency department entrance and the relocation of admitting services,” the letter signed by IH chair Chris Mazurkewich stated. “Once funding sources are confirmed we will be in the position to start this project next year, and are confident it will result in improved healthcare delivery to the residents of Oliver and surrounding area.”
Although IH has approved the funding, the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District, which Hovanes sits on as a director, needs to formally approve the budget. The hospital district would pay for 40 per cent of the project.
“I don’t remember a time ever that we cut the hospital budget. I don’t want to assume anything, of course, anything can happen in this day and age, but I’m very optimistic.”
The budget should receive third reading in February.