MEDICAL FOUNDATION: Initial hospital planning process almost complete

How can the public private partnership it affect the delivery of health care in our the South Okanagan?

In government circles it’s known as a “Public Private Partnership,” more commonly referred to as a P3.

As we get out and talk to residents throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen about the upcoming expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital, we find many people aren’t sure exactly what a P3 is.  And more specifically, how could it affect the delivery of health care in our community?

I put those questions to Norma Malanowich, Interior Health’s corporate director of capital planning and chief project officer, who fully explained the P3 process.

The bottom line, Malanowich said, is that a private sector firm will design, construct and maintain the new Patient Care Tower at PRH.  However, this will have absolutely no impact on health care services or other regional care facilities, including South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver and Princeton General Hospital.

“Interior Health will own this building. It’s our asset and we are responsible for all the health services delivered within that building. Our P3 partner is responsible for maintaining the facility,” she said. “All the health services within the facility remain with Interior Health in accordance with the Hospital Act and other regulations.”

The initial planning process is now almost complete, after Victoria announced the names of the three shortlisted prospective P3 partners last February.

All three Canadian firms — EllisDon Infrastructure, Plenary Health, and Tandem Health Partners — have spent the past several months working on their own designs for the tower.  The companies’ technical proposals were presented in September and are now being reviewed and evaluated.  Final financial proposals will be presented in December.

The provincial government will then announce its preferred P3 partner for the $325-million PRH project at the end of January.  A finalized contract will be signed in April with construction to begin shortly afterwards.

A separate contract will later be awarded for Phase 2, including a major expansion of the PRH Emergency Department.

The private sector firm will pick up much of the Province’s 60 per cent share of the $305 million in construction costs.  Interior Health will make payments to the P3 partner over the 30-year life of the post-construction contract, during which the company will recoup its investment.

“We’ll pay a monthly fee to them, provided they are meeting all of our performance measures,” Malanowich said. “We have quality measures and key performance indicators which they have to meet.”

Local taxpayers, through the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District, will pay 40 per cent of the construction costs. The South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation will contribute $20 million for all the medical equipment.

The project also includes a new parkade with room for almost 500 vehicles, which will be an Interior Health-operated facility. Malanowich said no decision on future parking rates has yet been made.

During the construction period, hospital staff parking will be located on a lot at Industrial Avenue and Camrose Street, currently being leased to a private sector firm for RV storage. Patient parking will remain in areas next to the hospital.

Construction of the new tower is expected to be completed by late 2019.

John Moorhouse is the development and communications officer with the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.