Mayor Wayne Lippert gets the first dig Tuesday with (from left) doctors Steve Friesen

Mayor Wayne Lippert gets the first dig Tuesday with (from left) doctors Steve Friesen

Access to health services builds

Construction to begin on new medical services building on 25th Avenue

Public access to medical services is being linked to the long-term health of Vernon’s economy.

Construction will begin soon on the Sterling medical building, a $3.9 million project at 3210 25th Ave. It will include a range of medical professionals and a pharmacy.

“There’s a real opportunity to attract health professionals,” said Kevin Poole, the city’s economic development manager, adding that physicians create employment opportunities through support staff.

“We can attract different specialists in the community.”

Poole also says that the presence of doctors, and particularly specialists, is something people consider when looking for a community to move to.

“We’re focusing on attracting families but also seniors and they need to have those amenities in place.”

The site — across from Real Canadian Wholesale Club — is just on the boundary of downtown Vernon, which is a focus of revitalization.

“This will be a significant improvement to this area,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert who participated in a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

“This shows confidence in what we’re doing here in Vernon.”

It’s anticipated that the four-storey,  30,000-square-foot medical building will open in March 2012.

“We looked at multiple sites but we kept coming back to this one,” said Dr. Greg Appelt, with Appelt Medical Developments and a Kelowna immunologist.

The main attraction to the property is its proximity to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“Physicians’ lives are busy and they are always looking at efficiencies. To be practically across from the hospital is ideal,” said Appelt.

Confirmed tenants include Dr. Chris Cunningham, Dr. Steve Friesen, Dr. Nick Half, Dr. Glenn Vaz and Dr. Christine Hatfield.

“The location is perfect,” said Half, who is a obstetrician and gynecologist.

“If I’m called up for a baby, I can be there (hospital) in two seconds.”

Negotiations are currently underway for a pharmacy to occupy 7,500-square-feet on the main floor.

Appelt also anticipates the complex including professionals like audiologists, dentists and physiotherapists.

“Having these associated uses under one roof improves communication amongst health care workers and benefits our patients and our work environment,” said Appelt.