Funding for renovations for the South Okanagan General Hospital is all but confirmed, which Oliver’s mayor hopes might make work in the emergency department more attractive.
Mayor Ron Hovanes said he was away during last Thursday’s Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen meeting, but at the meeting the hospital budget had passed first and second reading, leaving it up to just one final glance for the directors.
“It’s going to come back for third reading, and then hopefully be adopted down the road, which never usually has been a problem,” Hovanes said. “So that will make sure that that work takes place.”
Interior Health came to the RDOS meeting to request approval of the budget, which included $388,000 from the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District, part of the RDOS, toward the $970,000 project to renovate the emergency department and triage.
“My understanding of it is it’s quite a revamp of our emergency room department. A new triage area and a new admission area, a better workplace for our doctors and staff at the hospital,” Hovanes said. “A better place for patients to come in and visit. It’ll be much more workable and much more professional.”
Hovanes said it has been an area of interest for some time for Interior Health and the RDOS, but finally moved forward this year.
“We’re quite happy about it. Anytime that South Okanagan General gets capital improvements, we’re always happy. We truly believe there’s no threat of a hospital closure for South Okanagan General, as it looks after the entire South Okanagan,” he said.
“The last number of years we’ve had emergency room closures periodically over the weekends, and that always strikes a fear in the community, so anytime I see capital improvements coming to our hospital, I feel pretty good about it that our hospital isn’t going anywhere.”
Having a revamped emergency department, Hovanes said, could potentially make working in the hospital more appealing for doctors, which could help mitigate the emergency department closures.
“It’s a better work environment for the doctors. We’ve heard that from the doctors that … it hasn’t been the most accommodating as a place to actually practice. There’s line of sight issues where you can’t see the new patients as they come in. It’s just a little bit of awkward in the working environment,” he said.
“We’ve had doctors who have chosen not to work in the emergency department, and that’s always made an issue with scheduling, so hopefully this will help alleviate some of that as well.”
But Hovanes said there are still some issues that needs to be worked out that can also help resolve the issue of emergency department closures.
“There’s wage parity issues and other things with other emergency departments in the area, and I know Interior Health’s working on all that.”