By Keith Lacey
Special to OsoyoosToday
In less than 100 hundred days, one of British Columbia’s — and Canada’s — most impressive new hospitals will begin accepting patients.
On Saturday morning, officials from Interior Health, the Ministry of Health, South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation, Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District, Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki and other members of Penticton Council, as well as numerous other dignitaries gathered in the lobby of the Penticton Regional Hospital’s $312.5-million David E. Kampe Tower, which will officially open for business on April 29.
The milestone was marked by the unveiling of a 100-day countdown clock that will signify the final days before patient care begins in the new tower, named in honour of Penticton philanthropist and businessman David E. Kampe.
As has become custom, Mr. Kampe attended the ceremony, but did not speak with reporters.
Construction of the David E. Kampe Tower began in the summer of 2016 and will open to enhance patient care not only for Penticton residents, but residents across the South Okanagan in a modern, six-storey tower.
An adjacent five-storey, 480-stall parkade will also open April 29.
Carl Meadows, Interior Health’s acute services administrator for the South Okanagan and master of ceremonies Saturday, said Penticton’s new hospital tower will be one of the finest facilities of its kind anywhere in B.C. or Canada.
“Residents of Penticton and the South Okanagan will soon have a state-of-the-art facility where we receive care … a facility that will match the expertise of our staff and physicians and will enhance the care that patients receive,” said Mr. Meadows.
Mayor Vassilaki heaped praise on Kampe for continuing his philanthropic legacy of donating millions of dollars to worthy causes in and around Penticton and being a driving force behind this hospital tower project.
Mr. Kampe has donated close to $8 million towards the hospital tower and medical equipment over the past three years.
“There’s no one anywhere in the valley, or anywhere else in British Columbia as far as that goes, or in Canada, that I respect more than David Kampe,” said Mayor Vassilaki.
“He’s one of the greatest philanthropists that I’ve seen in our region for many, many years and I’ve lived here for 62 years.”
Mayor Vassilaki then proceeded to give Kampe, seated to his side in a wheelchair, a big hug.
Medical foundation chair Gerry Ryan thanked Mr. Kampe for his donations and all local residents who have dug deep to provide funding for the purchase of medical equipment for the new tower.
“This new medical building is impressive and such a wonderful addition to our community,” he said. “I want to thank all of those who have given so generously.”
Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas said he was honoured to be part of such an exciting announcement, adding he’s confident the new hospital tower will improve the quality of health care for all residents in the region, including PIB members, for generations to come.
Chief Eneas congratulated the provincial governments and hospital district for providing the funding and supporting such an important project.
“We’re all going to benefit,” he said.
The new hospital tower will offer 84 private, single-patient rooms, an ambulatory care centre, a new surgical services suite with five new operating rooms, three minor procedure rooms, two endoscopy rooms and one cystoscopy room. It will also feature a fixed MRI suite, as well as a nuclear medicine suite.
The majority of the equipment for the tower is being purchased thanks to the fundraising campaign by the medical foundation, which is just $1.5 million away from reaching its goal of raising $20 million.
Construction on Phase 2 of the project, which will include major upgrades of the existing Emergency Department, pharmacy department and other minor upgrades, is expected to begin later this summer.
Anyone wishing more information on the progress of the David E. Kampe Tower can find it at buildingpatientcare.ca.