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Hospital on wheels

The arrival of BC's mobile medical unit in Penticton, two days before Boonstock, is no coincidence.

The MMU was hauled into place in front of the Emergency Department at PRH July 29 and will be operational July 31 through Aug 3.

Penticton Regional Hospital's acute health services director Maureen Thomson said the August long weekend is already a busy time for Penticton and with the addition of Boonstock, Interior Health felt they could use some help. 

Enter the mobile medical unit's 1,000 square feet of air-conditioned life-saving and educational technology. It will serve as a backup emergency room with about eight staff and up to 10 additional stretchers. 

"It was the request of Interior Health that we come and help support surge for the Boonstock event," said the clinical director of operations at Provincial Health Services, Peter Hennecke. 

"We always are an extension of the facility," he said. "So it will be from hospital, to us, for workflow. But each mission is different."

Hennecke said the MMU is set up to do everything from first-aid to critical care. It also provides education, public outreach, disaster and hospital renovation support.

The unit is funded by six different health authorities. Each health authority can call it out twice per year and each are slated for at least one visit each year. 

The initial price tag of the MMU was around $6 million and the yearly operational costs are over $800,000 for the unit and its support trailer he said. 

Hennecke said they prefer to be hooked up to city power and water, but are capable of operating on a generator. For this deployment, they're using the generator. 

Thomson nodded when asked if the organizers of Boonstock had cooperated and reached out for help. 

This will be its first festival deployment. However they will also be deployed for Squamish Valley Music Festival being held Aug 8 to 10.

Penticton Regional Hospital advises residents that from July 29 to Aug 4, hospital access off Carmi Avenue will be limited to Emergency Department traffic only.

All other traffic will be redirected to use the Government Street access.

Non-emergency patients and visitors are asked to park in the East parking lot.

Parking and access will return to normal on Tuesday, August 5.

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