It’s known as the Western or Blue-Tailed Skink. Basically it’s an itty-bitty lizard that is officially listed as a “species of special concern” in our province – found only in the Southern Interior and Southeastern B.C. However, it seems they like to hang out on the grounds of Penticton Regional Hospital.

There have been numerous skink sightings around the hospital property over the past couple of years as construction continues on the new PRH tower and adjoining parkade.

A biologist has been called in to review their habitat and gather data on these little guys. They have a bright cobalt blue tail and dine on caterpillars, beetles and other insects. Since skinks like to live under rocks, plans are being made to include a lot of rockwork in the landscaping for the tower project.

Meanwhile, work on the David E. Kampe Tower remains on schedule. Actually, construction should be complete by mid-December, with the following four months set aside for moving in all the equipment, furnishings and the like. The new tower will open for patients on April 29, 2019 – just 13 months from now.

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It’s not quite the home stretch for the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. We still have about $3.5 million to go in our $20-million fundraising drive to supply the medical equipment for the PRH expansion.

Hats off to the hard-working volunteers with the Penticton Hospital Auxiliary which recently presented a cheque for more than $25,000. This brings the total amount raised by the Auxiliary for our tower campaign over the past three years to $214,000 – within shouting distance of their $250,000 pledge made in 2015. Incredible!

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Next time you visit PRH, you may notice some new artwork on display in two of the main floor hallways leading to the Cardio lab and the Outpatient (blood sample) lab. These prints, with the help of the SOS Medical Foundation, have been acquired by the hospital’s art advisory committee as a way of brightening up some of the public areas within PRH. This has evolved from a pair of art shows held in the hospital cafeteria last year, featuring works by some of the talented artists in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. It’s tough being in hospital at the best of times (even for tests), but “art therapy” often has a positive impact on mental wellness.

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It may be March, but Santa Claus has come forward with a belated gift to the SOS Medical Foundation. Judy Richards, general manager of Cherry Lane Shopping Centre, presented $15,826 stemming from customers’ donations during their annual Photos With Santa fundraiser before Christmas.

This raises Cherry Lane’s total contribution to the Tower equipment campaign since 2015 to almost $55,000. Our thanks to the folks at Cherry Lane and everyone who stopped by with their youngsters to visit with Santa and donate to the hospital. What a great gift.

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A sincere Thank You as well to the RBC Foundation for their recently-announced $70,000 donation to our PRH equipment campaign. The Royal Bank of Canada has been a fixture in Penticton since its first branch opened in the 1920s. It was great chatting with Amy Bergen, manager of RBC’s Apple Plaza branch about the history of the bank in Penticton. You may have noticed the intriguing Penticton Museum photo of the Royal Bank branch at Main and Nanaimo taken in the 1920s. Here we are almost 100 years later and RBC remains at the same downtown location.

John Moorhouse is the development and communications officer for the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. For information on donating, please call 250-492-9027 or visit our website

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