February 19, 2013 - 6:05 PM
By Shannon Quesnel
Penticton Regional Hospital has been left off the B.C. government's nice list and will not get a new $300-million health centre this year.
The government plans to invest $2.6 billion for health care projects around the province but the PRH tower is once again not on the list, according to the 2013/14 provincial budget released today. This despite a huge public turnout to support the hospital and after a visit by Premier Christy Clark herself, who saw the overcrowding and space problems with her own eyes.
Surrey Memorial Hospital tops the list of other projects, including a $512-million critical care tower, expected to be completed in 2014. Right behind is Kelowna's health centre which gets $367 million for a new general operating suite and other upgrades. No $160 million for Penticton.
Garry Litke is not impressed. The outspoken Penticton councillor is one of the community leaders making noise and public attention to the need, along with fellow councillors and mayor, the Penticton Medical Staff Society and the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District.
“Extremely disappointed,” he says. “The regional district has been accumulating funds for 10 years. We are talking $50 to $60 million. We have $30 million saved in the bank and ready for construction.”
He says the doctors and hospital administrators might have done too good a job finding solutions to very tough problems. If it appeared the hospital was unable to handle its problems, the health centre funding might have been there—penalized for making do.
When Clark visited the hospital on Friday, she asked for a business plan, but Litke says other capital projects got approved without such plans. He said her trip was nothing more than "damage control" and promised to make the tower an election issue.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013