Community in action

Penticton physicians, including Dr. Jacqueline Stewart (front row second from right), are contributing $125,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s campaign to provide the medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion. The doctors also played a key lobbying role in 2013 for the PRH project to gain government approval.'

The passion Penticton area physicians have shown for Penticton Regional Hospital still runs deep.

The doctors played an integral role in the community-wide lobbying campaign for the new PRH patient care tower four years ago and continue to show their support.

Dr. Jacqueline Stewart, president of the Penticton Regional Hospital Medical Staff Association, said the Association is donating $125,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s PRH campaign on behalf of the 125 doctors in the organization.

Each physician has been contributing annually through their association from 2015 through until the end of 2018. Some are also making personal donations in addition to this group endeavour.

“This hospital was built in the early 1950s, so constantly there are issues with inadequate space,” she said. “The facility is really aging and the doctors felt very strongly that we need this new tower for our community.”

Dr. Stewart said the physicians are solidly behind the SOS Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to supply the medical equipment for the new tower.

“We felt it was important to show that we are committed to providing financial support,” she said. “We also want to motivate the public and make people aware that money is still needed (for the foundation’s campaign) to cover the costs of all the equipment the new facility will need.”

The new tower will provide immediate benefits for patients, Dr. Stewart said. “It’s going to be night and day. I think this is going to be quite an amazing facility.”

She pointed to the 84 individual patient rooms, compared to the existing situation where up to four patients must share a room. Outpatient clinics will also feature much more elbow room in the new tower, instead of having some patients wait in hallways prior to their procedures.

Dr. Stewart has practised as a rheumatologist in Penticton for the past 12 years after moving to the South Okanagan from Ontario in 2004. She takes a lot of pride in the doctors’ continuing support.

“Our jobs revolve around the hospital, even for someone like me who primarily looks after patients outside the hospital,” she said. “You still feel a strong connection that the hospital is part of what you do. It’s very important in terms of diagnostics and caring for our patients.”

Construction of the six-storey David E. Kampe Tower at PRH is now underway and should be ready for patients by early 2019 when work begins on Phase 2 – a major expansion of the hospital’s Emergency Department.