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Doctors want public to kick, scream for new hospital at town meeting

Dr. David Paisley is one of many doctors who want a new patient care tower for Penticton. He and other physicians want public support and are inviting everyone to a town hall meeting at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m.
Image Credit: Shannon Quesnel
February 07, 2013 - 3:40 PM

Turning a hospital bed diagonally to get more space to treat a patient in a tiny room is not a worse-case scenario, but reality at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Dr. David Paisley wants to solve this problem of space shortages and other issues with a proposed $300-million expansion to the health centre. The province has said it will help fund the centre, but so far has not come through on its end.

Paisley and other doctors are asking the public to come to the South Okanagan Events Centre, Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m., for a big town hall meeting. They want the public to make some noise and show the provincial government they need a new health centre. Penticton's health care professionals have had it with the status quo.

Doctors and the hospital's administration have spent years jury rigging the existing health centre to accommodate advancing technology and new methods to practice medicine. Originally built in 1951 for a population of 10,000 for people with a life expectancy of 68 years. The hospital now serves 90,000 people and six years of projected life remaining.

While the proposed health care tower is the cure for Penticton's critically ill hospital, the province has been slow to pay its share for the new building.

Paisley says that is why doctors need the public's help.

“We are asking them to help us get the message across to the people in power that we can get our tower.”

Paisley says this is not typical behavior for physicians. “We generally try to work and get things done and not stand up and make things public. But it seems our word has not been heard yet.”

Paisley is now in private practice but he worked at the hospital in 1992. He has seen patients having to criss-cross all over the hospital in order to make appointments.

“It is very tiring for some of the older folk with heart and lung issues.”

Paisley says the patient care tower will be a one-stop shop. Patients will come in and have all their medical needs addressed in one place. Instead of enduring five days inside the hospital, a patient will be able to leave in two days or the same day he or she walked in.

The doctors want this tower in Penticton he says. They have already seen it happen in neighbouring communities such as Vernon even though Penticton was supposedly higher on the province's priority list.

Paisley says when the Interior Health board chair was asked why Vernon got the nod before they did, the chairman said to stand up and make some noise.

Councillor Garry Litke agrees.

Litke has been working with many others to try and get this new health care tower.

Interior Health identified Penticton hospital as number one on its priority list. Vernon was number five on its list but it got built ahead of Penticton, he says.

“There were demonstrations on the street (in Vernon). The doctors got very militant. That's why number five became number one,” says Litke.

He says the district has its share of the money. Taxpayers have been taxed for 10 years to pay for the district's share of the new patient care tower.

“We have about $30 million saved now. We feel pretty comfortable with our money on the table. And yet we see no indication from the province to come forward with their share,” he says. “The need for this tower cannot be overstated.”

For more information about the upcoming Feb. 13 meeting and how people can help go to www.prhtower.ca.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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