Health minister Margaret MacDiarmid responded this week to the effort being made to get an expansion at Penticton Regional Hospital.
Following Wednesday’s rally at the aging facility, she said she is already aware of the situation and it is clear it needs to be addressed.
“I had an opportunity to meet with municipal leaders in September and then came to Penticton in December and went to the hospital where I spent a couple of hours,” she said. “And what I saw is outstanding work, exemplary care, being done in an older facility.”
After Premier Christy Clark also paid a visit to the hospital, MacDiarmid said she was asked to prepare a business case for the $300 million project.
“Right now we have a model, but a business case is a detailed plan with a dollar figure attached, and that is the next step,” she said.
In a phone call made to Dr. David Paisley, president of the Penticton Medical Staff Society, which held the rally, MacDiarmid said they are working as hard as they can to find a way to make the project move forward, he said.
“She said after the premier’s visit the premier was quite interested in finding a way to make it move forward, and that she, (MacDiarmid) was hoping to have answers within the next few days,” he said.
Paisley is happy to see the premier and health minister responding, but said he has not heard anything definitive from the NDP. There is hope NDP Leader Adrian Dix will visit in the next few weeks.
The medical society held a town hall meeting attended by about 800 people and have an ongoing letter writing campaign to get the word out about the need for a new patient tower at the hospital.
Well over 100 people, carrying signs with such messages as 'fix the problem', and 'People in power where is our tower?', showed up for the rally Wednesday at the intersection of Carmi Road and Government Street.
“We are still playing the waiting game, but we feel the rally helped,” said Paisley. “We also have the nurses union and the unions for radiologists and lab technicians and hospital employees all behind us, as well as the city.”