Patients fill new PRH tower

After years of work and planning, the new patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital opened to the public Monday.

Moving day was actually Sunday, a massive undertaking that ran smoothly thanks to the work of volunteers and staff.

“This has been a ten year in the making project, so it’s like day one, everyone knew what to do,” said Carl Meadows, health service administrator South Okanagan. “It’s really gone miraculously perfect actually.”

He added that patients and visitors appear to be settling into the new facility quite well.

“It feels lived-in on day one. I was expecting a little bit more chaos for a new thing.”

The $312 million tower includes 84 beds, five operating rooms, three minor procedure rooms, two endoscopy rooms and a cystoscopy room, along with a nuclear medicine program, rooftop helipad and space for the UBC faculty of medicine program to expand.

The hospital’s patient advisory committee is thrilled with the new space.

“It allows the staff more room, more technology, to make enhancements to patient care,” said committee founding member Patti Hill. “The single occupancy rooms give people the privacy to rest, heal and receive the support from their family and friends.”

“It’s fabulous, it truly is.”

The new tower also includes the addition of a parkade, which will hopefully alleviate a long standing crunch at PRH.

Phase two of the hospital upgrade, which includes an expansion of the emergency department, will be “starting right away.”

“No dust is going to land on the ground,” Meadows said.

“I think May-June, we’ve got our designs for the emergency department. Very excited about that, but it’s also going to be challenging,” he said, explaining the ER will have to become smaller during renovations before it gets larger.

“That whole area is going to be patient care areas for waiting, more comfort, much like designed this way where there is more breathing room and confidentiality,” he said.

The new tower bears the name of David E. Kampe, local philanthropist who made major contributions to the project through the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. He also donated an additional $4.4 million for a permanent MRI and SPECT-CT nuclear medicine equipment which were not part of the original project.

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