A large crowd gathers outside the Polson tower Monday as the keys to the new facility are officially handed over to the Interior Health Authority.

A large crowd gathers outside the Polson tower Monday as the keys to the new facility are officially handed over to the Interior Health Authority.

A tower of planning gets underway

Doctors, nurses and support workers are preparing to embrace the next generation in health care.

The keys to Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s new Polson tower were handed over to the Interior Health Authority Monday to signify the completion of construction.

“The concrete and plaster is in place but now the real work begins, turning this place into a home for our patients and staff,” said Allan Sinclair, IHA’s vice-president of acute services.

The tower will be open to patients Sept. 25 and prior to that, staff will go through intense training.

“They will know the space they’ve got and the systems,” said Sinclair.

The tower includes an emergency department four times the size of the current one, a covered ambulance garage, an ambulatory care centre, operating rooms almost double the size of the current ones, a maternity/pediatric ward and intensive care and coronary care units.

“There is much better technology in terms of what we can do,” said Sinclair.

“There is a much more technologically advanced intensive care unit.”

Strict goals have been set to ensure the tower is ready for Sept. 25.

“The time we have to train all staff is sufficient,” said Sinclair.

Construction on the 231,000-square-foot, seven-storey tower  got underway Nov.17, 2008.

“It’s hard to believe that three years ago we were drawing up plans for this much-needed facility,” said Michael Baybutt, chairperson of Infusion Health, the consortium involved in the development.

Construction was done ahead of schedule and within the $180 million budget.

“It represents more than bricks and mortar. It represents a community space. It represents space for healing and support,” said Baybutt of the tower.

It can also claim some superlatives. It is twice the size of Wesbild Centre and Vernon’s tallest building.

Graham Design Builders built the structure while Stantec Consulting did the design.

Construction involved 1,500 people, who put in about 700,000 hours.

“Today is a day for all of them to be proud,” said Dave Corcoran, Graham project director.

Black and MacDonald will be responsible for hospital maintenance until 2042.