Hospital expansion critical

Penticton hospital was built in 1951 to serve a community population of 10,500, while now it serves 90,000-plus

I just got back from Ontario assisting my mother who was recently diagnosed with pancreas and liver cancer.

After many trips to the new Peterborough hospital (opened in 2008), I soon realized the major change in service, care and morale with the larger size of the new hospital. The new Peterborough hospital with adequate space made an impression on me as how much space a hospital should have and the difference it makes to its staff and service. The last time I was at the old Peterborough hospital it was always jammed, patients forced into halls from lack of bed space and a lower morale and added stress on hospital staff. Sound familiar?

The old Peterborough hospital comparison is exactly what Penticton hospital staff and patients have to suffer with at present. Our hospital staff are second to none, but how can staff continue with quality care under these circumstances? Penticton hospital was built in 1951 to serve a community population of 10,500. Now at present they serve 90,000-plus and are running at 110 per cent capacity. Add to that, the aging population with an estimated 20 per cent increase in those aged 65+ by 2017, tourist use and it is also expected to service more severe hospital services for the new prison. The future looks desperate. The province has $273 million for a new prison with a declining crime rate (or so they say), but zero for an obvious overloaded community hospital. What would you consider a higher priority?

We seldom think of our hospital and those that serve us, as it is not something most use in their daily lives, yet we fail to realize how important it really is. We expect 100 per cent when we bring our children to the ER, we expect 100 per cent when we use it for ourselves and we definitely expect 100 per cent for our parents as they age and use the hospital services more frequently.

Should we also not give in return 100 per cent for the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital who we count on every time we go to the ER or otherwise? The hospital expansion will take at least five years of construction, which adds up to five years of continuing decline inn available space once approval has been given. Is it not time to give the same respect to the hospital and staff by writing or phoning your disapproval to the province to say enough is enough — we demand a new hospital expansion now. As you may know, the less complaints the government receives, the less they will make an effort to improve what should naturally be a priority.

You can email Premier Christy Clark at premier@gov.bc.ca, or Minister of Health Margaret McDiarmid at margaret.macdiarmid.mla@leg.bc.ca or call 250-953-3547 or 604-660-7061.

Clifford Martin

 

Penticton