Mar 6, 2013 / 2:45 pm
The people of Penticton were told to get loud to get a new patient tower at their hospital, and on Wednesday they did just that.
Doctors, nurses, politicians and city residents gathered in front of the aging facility to get the word out that they will not stop their effort until something is done.
“We have been leapfrogged by other projects, the Polson Tower in Vernon just got $30 million to open 60 beds and it was sixth on the Interior Health priority list, and Kamloops got $80 million for a parkade and it was fifth on the list,” said Dr. Sarah Broder. “So I will not be silent until the government commits fully to this project.”
The rally, held by the Penticton Medical Staff Society, was the latest attempt to get the government to take action on getting the new patient tower built.
A recent meeting, held by doctors, drew in a crowd of more than 800 and there has been an ongoing letter writing campaign. When the hospital was not included in the provincial budget, the doctors sent off an angry letter to Premier Christy Clark.
Health minister Margaret MacDiarmid visited with doctors in December, while Clark came after the meeting earlier this year and made promises to kick down barriers.
People were invited to come to the rally wearing black and with wheelchairs, crutches and bandages.
Several dressed accordingly and carried homemade signs with such messages as 'with a tower we will flower', 'fix this problem' and 'Penticton hospital on life support.'
Colin Van Blerk, who walked with a sign saying, 'It’s our turn', said he will remain a staunch supporter.
“I’ve had several trips to the hospital and I see the staff, who have all been good to me working in adverse conditions,” he said. “The hospital is outdated and needs a change.”
As the around 200 people made their presence known at the intersection of Carmi Road and Government Street, drivers honked their horns and a passing ambulance blasted its siren to show support.
Doctors stood on a small stage to further get the message across.
“We had a meeting, we had over 800 people at that meeting, since then we have been able to get over 5,000 letters off to the minister of health for our concerns for getting our tower,” Dr. David Paisley told the crowd. “That night it was the physicians that were standing, but guess what we also have the BCNU, the nurses from the hospital."
Broder stated that Christy Clark says she will be supporting worthy projects and our project is worthy and that we, (doctors), are functioning in a hospital that was built in 1951 for a population of 10,000 people.
Dr. Brad Raison addressed the decline of hospitals in the South Okanagan and described the region as being health care orphans.
“We need to keep this alive and hold them to account. The only way you can get this done is every second you make it an issue,” he said.
The total cost of the project is $300 million. The Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board has agreed to fund $120 million and the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation will fund $20 million. That makes for $160 million the province needs to pay.
Councillor Garry Litke said the effort to get a new patient tower will continue.
“The premier’s visit was an insult, she parachuted in to provide window dressing,” he said. “We are not going to go away, we will keep up the pressure, and we are putting together a $10,000 budget to support this.”
Read more Penticton News
City of Penticton
Penticton Discussion Forum
Penticton & Wine Country Chamber
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen
District of Summerland
Summerland Chamber & Tourism
Town of Oliver
Town of Osoyoos
Town of Keremeos
School District 67 - Okanagan Skaha
School District 53 - Okanagan Similkameen
- Something hatching in the Okanagan May 16
- Is Premier eyeing Penticton seat? May 15
- Ashton asks for extended leave from city May 15
- New leader for Penticton RCMP May 15
- Event for man who died in crash May 15