PENTICTON – A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday to mark the start of construction of the new six-story patient care tower at the Penticton hospital.
The sod-turning ceremony was 14 years in the making.
“It really took the doctors coming forward and the community coming forward so that the province knew that everyone was behind them. All they had to do was agree to it, so it took some time,” said Janice Perrino with the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.
READ MORE: August construction start for PRH tower/parkade
“The 26,170 square metre (281,700 square foot) patient care tower will bring together outpatient care services into one building, provide five modern operating rooms, expand the medical device reprocessing/sterilization unit to nearly triple its current size, and provide three floors of single-occupancy inpatient rooms with private washrooms,” states a provincial government news release.
Ellis Don Infrastructure begins construction of the tower and parkade next month.
This project is anticipated to create 1,910 direct and indirect jobs.
“Most of those 1,900 workers will be driving home to see their families in this region at the end of the day,” Premier Christy Clark said.
The hospital expansion doesn’t mean more doctors or nurses are being hired right away.
“Initially, we’re supposed to start with the staff that we have but I think as it grows there will be more staff needed,” said PRH Chief of Staff Brad Raison.
Interior Health is hopeful the addition of $20-million worth of modern equipment will attract more medical professionals to work there.
Ken Burrows, a board member, said a new neurologist has come to Penticton because the hospital received a donation of a permanent MRI machine.
“Having the right technology and facility does attract health care professionals,” he said.
The patient care tower is expected to open in 2019.
It will have space for the UBC Faculty of Medicine program.
The Penticton Regional Hospital opened in 1951 with the last major expansion happening 25 years ago.