Will the South Okanagan General Hospital (SOGH) upgrade fix doctor shortages?
That was the first question pitched by an audience member during a presentation by the SOS Medical Foundation and Interior Health last Thursday at the community centre.
Health services administrator Karl Meadows addressed the question by explaining how there is a large number of general practitioners living in the South Okanagan. But while there is no shortage of doctors in the area, not many are interested in working in the emergency department.
However, “When you innovate, infuse and add money” into the emergency department – like at SOGH – he believes a more modern workplace will attract more people to work there.
“I think it’s all going to be very, very positive,” he said.
When asked how the pay compares for doctors at SOGH, Meadows said it is comparable. Doctors are paid through a fee-for-service model, which can be lucrative at Oliver’s hospital where there is a high volume of patients.
The presentation, which was held during business hours on a weekday, attracted an audience of about 75 (only one or two appeared to be younger than retirement age). They were shown a video of testimony from nurses, who spoke about how the renovations will eliminate many steps, and make it easier for them to do their jobs better.
One lady in the audience spoke out to say the staff at SOGH are amazing, to which she received an applause.
When asked if the renovations will lower operating costs, Meadows assumed so.
“They look at as much as they can but I’m not sure of anything substantive.”
Upgrades to SOGH include developing a new waiting and triage area, a separate public emergency department entrance, and the relocation of admitting and administration services.
Once complete, patients requiring emergency treatment will access the emergency room from a separate entrance, ensuring privacy.
The project will also include new exterior signage to improve public navigation to the emergency department.
The upgrades are slated to cost approximately $1 million.