Project long overdue at Penticton hospital

Despite being named Interior Health's top priority, Penticton hospital continues to be bypassed for other communities

Coun. Wes Hopkin posed an interesting question to Lori Motluk, acute area director for Interior Health. Why, he asked, if everyone is in support of a new patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital, does the project seems to be stalled?

“It seems everyone is in favour of it, everyone is a friend of this project, yet it is still not happening,” Hopkin said during Monday’s regular council meeting, which Motluk attended.

The project, which would greatly expand the ability of the hospital — built in 1951 to serve a population of 10,500, now grown to 90,000 — to provide patient care, has been “a top priority” for some time. However, it has been bypassed in favour of projects in Kamloops and Vernon. And now, an administrative tower in Kelowna may be the latest to overtake Penticton’s new care tower.

There is no doubt the City of Penticton and the regional district have been working hard to make this project come about. The hospital has available land, the district has a sizable bank account set aside to help pay the local share of the costs, and for the past year, local officials have been banging the drum to create the vocal community support the area has been told is needed to convince Victoria.

But even as doctors at PRH speak out on the need for expanding facilities at the 61-year-old hospital, Penticton city council raises concerns that those doctors are being pressured not to and that the administrative tower for Kelowna is being moved to the top of the list.

It is simply time that PRH, and the communities of the vast area it serves, truly took chief spot in IH’s planning. When it comes to choosing between building a new office tower or patient care, the decision should be a simple one: patient care should top the list every time.