By Vanessa Broadbent
The emergency room at South Okanagan General Hospital will be getting a face lift, including a new entrance and waiting area.
A letter from Interior Health (IH) president and chief executive officer Chris Mazurkewich, presented at Monday’s council meeting, said the renovations have been deemed high priority and were included in IH’s 2018/19 budget.
Peter Entwistle, doctor and former chief of staff at the hospital, said the improvements have been on IH’s radar for years but are finally now coming into fruition.
“It’s something that we’ve been asking them for and been told it’s a top priority for many years,” he said. “It’s good that now what we’ve been told is top priority is happening.”
The renovations will include a new waiting and triage area, a separate public emergency department entrance and the relocation of admitting services.
The current structure of the hospital requires emergency patients to register at reception, which is separate from the emergency room, and then come back to the waiting room.
Entwistle explained that building a new admittance area at the emergency room will streamline the process and make it easier for patients.
“It’s easier if you’re sick or in pain. You don’t have to walk and come back,” he said. “It helps the flow because now patients who enter the hospital will be seen to register at the emergency.”
Entwistle said the changes will also allow for better infection control, more patient confidentiality and privacy, as well as increased safety.
“At night, because we don’t have reception staff, when people come in they’re confused about where to go so they wind up interrupting you and you could be busy treating someone.”
Entwistle hopes to see more improvements in the future as well.
“It’s good to see a commitment from Interior Health, but we’re hoping that’s a first step to a broader commitment to supporting a sustainable emergency service fit for the 21st century.”
The project is scheduled to start this year once IH secures funding from the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District.