By Dale Bass
Kamloops This Week
Calling it a huge day for him personally, Health Minister Terry Lake has announced that the much-anticipated patient-care tower at Royal Inland Hospital has been given the green light by the provincial government.
Officials confirmed what has previously been reported, that the tower will follow the recently completed $80-million clinical-services building and parkade.
The $417-million tower will rise on the east side of the hospital in an area that is now a parking lot for doctors and other staff. It will climb to nine storeys and have 11 operating rooms, among other features.
A request for qualifications to identify potential contractors will go out in May — the month of the provincial election — with shovels expected in the ground in 2018. Estimated opening year is 2022.
The business plan includes analysis of health-services needs and delivery options, the project’s scope and procurement plan.
The business plan also includes a funding analysis.
Lake, MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson, said the tower will be the single-largest construction project in the city’s history, with 2,400 construction jobs expected to be created.
The announcement continues a series of positive steps Lake has announced in past weeks. He said last year he won’t be running in the May election and yesterday’s project disclosure helped him fulfil what he set as his priority goal when he was first elected to the legislature in 2009.
Lake told the group gathered in a conference room at RIH that he and former MLA Kevin Krueger met with the health minister of the day and told him they wanted a helicopter pad at the hospital and work to begin on a master site plan that would include clinical-services and patient-care towers.
RIH Tower fast facts
Lake credited Mayor Peter Milobar, who is also chair of the Thompson Regional Health District board, for his work lobbying for the tower. Milobar is now running for Lake’s seat as the Liberal candidate in Kamloops-North Thompson.
Todd Stone, the transportation minister and MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson — the riding in which RIH sits — praised Lake’s determination, noting yesterday’s announcement is “one heck of a way to go out with a bang.”
City councillor Donovan Cavers, who was present for the announcement, praised it and described it as an important moment for Kamloops. Cavers is running in Kamloops-South Thompson for the Green party.
Calling it the future of health care, Lake said eighty per cent of patient rooms are expected to be private — which helps minimize the risk of infection — with 20 per cent wards.
The tower is expected to be home to three floors of inpatient beds, including mental-health and medical/surgical beds; a new surgical suite; a perinatal centre and private labour and delivery rooms, obstetrics and postpartum beds; and a neonatal intensive-care unit.
The project is also expected to include underground and surface parking and a permanent heliport on top of the building.
In addition to the tower, renovations will be made to existing parts of Royal Inland Hospital, including an expansion to the existing emergency department, doubling the current space. Renovations will also be made to the pediatric unit, post-anaesthetic recovery department and the morgue.
The $417-million budget is being funded from three sources:
• $225 million from the Province and Interior Health;
• $172 million from the Thompson Regional Hospital District;
• $20 million from the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation.
“The new patient care tower will support the delivery of high-quality care to the many patients from across Interior Health who require the services of our health-care professionals,” said Interior Health Board chair John O’Fee. “In addition, the physical environment will enhance a safe and healthy workplace for our greatest resource, our health-care professionals.”
“Royal Inland Hospital is a resource not just for Kamloops but for the entire Thompson-Nicola region,” said Milobar, calling the announcement “a wonderful day” that will see, once it opens in the next decade, about a half-billion dollars spent on health care for the region.
RIH Foundation Board chair Eric Davis noted the organization has raised money for 30 years, with an annual goal of about $4 million. That threshold has been raised to $5 million annually, he said.
“The foundation has set an ambitious goal of raising $20 million from our community in support of this critical health-care expansion and we are confident the community will respond with their generosity,” Davis said.
He also pledged $6,000 of his own money toward the cause, an amount representing $1,000 for each family member born in RIH.