By Keith Lacey
Construction on the $312-million new patient care tower at the Penticton Regional Hospital is almost halfway completed.
More than a dozen members of the media from across the South Okanagan participated in a media tour early last week.
“We’re about 45 per cent completed,” said EllisDon Construction project manager Jason Hui near the end of the 30-minute tour.
The David E. Kampe Tower is expected to open in the fall of 2019.
The provincial government contributed $161 million in funding, while the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District contributed $117 million. Interior Health contributed $14.4 million.
The South Okanagan Medical Foundation has raised more than $14.5 million towards its goal of $20 million. That money will be used to purchase medical equipment once the new tower opens.
Almost all of the concrete for the sixth and final floor of the new tower has been poured and crews will soon begin pouring concrete to begin construction on the five-storey attached parkade, said Hui.
“There’s not much to the parkade,” he said.”It takes about five to six months to get the structure up and then it’s mainly painting, traffic coating and minor mechanical and electrical work.”
Hui admitted that one of the longest and coldest winters over the past 30 years in Penticton did throw the overall project behind schedule, but now that exterior construction is almost completed, he guaranteed the project would finish on time and on budget.
“Finishing on time is not an option,” he said. “It will get done on time. With the cold winter we had, we were set back by the weather. It was a harsh winter and it was tough on the (construction) guys, but we made everyone work hard and now the structure is pretty much up. We are only a week away from topping up.
“The design is pretty much complete and now it’s time to (interior) build. Things are going well even though we had some setbacks because of the bad weather, but now we’ll be able to catch up.”
Once all of the concrete on the sixth floor is poured on the patient care tower, windows will be installed and workers will be protected from the elements and will be able to catch up for time lost due to last winter’s harsh working conditions, he said.
The new patient care tower will feature a rooftop helipad and 84 single patient rooms covering almost 27,000 square feet.
It will also include five operating rooms, three minor procedure rooms, two endoscopy rooms, a cystoscopy room and nuclear medicine program.
An ambulatory care centre and outpatient services building will also result in service improvements in cardiology, neurology, respirology and improvements to several other medical programs.
Phase two of the project will involve the renovation of much of the adjoining current Penticton Regional Hospital.
Those renovations to the emergency department and pharmacy won’t begin until the spring of 2019.
Vince Nord, the general superintendent of construction for EllisDon, said this project has created hundreds of jobs for contractors across the Okanagan Valley.
“With the exception of mechanical and electrical, all of the contractors we’re using are local, and by local I mean Okanagan Valley,” he said. “We have crews from Penticton, Kelowna and other places all across the region.”
Greyback Construction of Penticton was responsible for pouring the massive amounts of concrete needed to build the tower and they have been great partners and have done a fantastic job, he said.
Nord, who has been working for EllisDon for 31 years, said this is his sixth hospital construction project and he said building a new hospital is rewarding because it presents unique challenges because so many sub-contractors must work in unison to make the project come together.
More than 200 workers are currently on site every day and those numbers are expected to continue as the project continues over the next two years, he said.
Dr. Brad Raison, PRH’s chief of staff, participated in the tour, as did Carey Bornn, executive director of the South Okanagan Medical Foundation.
Bornn said he’s very pleased that more than $14 million has been raised towards the $20 million target, with more than two years to go before the new tower opens.
“We are going to get there,” he said. “We still have two years to reach our goal.”