Foster meets with minister over hospital

Lobbying continues to ease overcrowding at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

  • Sep. 21, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Lobbying continues to ease overcrowding at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, will meet with Health Minister Michael de Jong Thursday to discuss possibly completing the two shelled-in floors in the new patient care tower for more acute care beds.

“We’re working on it,” said Foster, who will present de Jong with a 6,033-name petition demanding action.

VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but on average, there are 164 patients daily. That has led to patients in the halls and surgeries being cancelled.

“It’s a big issue. It’s an issue that affects everyone,” said Foster.

“It’s all about the numbers. We need to find the money.”

It’s estimated that it could cost about $10 million to complete each of the shelled-in floors and then $10 million each annually to operate the floors (with 30 beds each).

Organizers of the Purple Ribbon campaign say local residents and Foster have been supportive in trying to get two floors completed.

“I have seen Eric Foster lobby this government and ministers,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, a member of medical staff.

“We thank Eric Foster for standing up and being a positive force, and we thank the people of this North Okanagan region for being a strong voice and taking steps towards helping improve their health care.  We still need to keep this pressure on.”

Cunningham is urging residents to continue to place pressure on the government for more beds.

“It is their vast voice calling to this government for help, to do the right thing, and complete the top two floors,” he said.

There’s speculation that an announcement on funding could occur during the ceremonial opening of the new tower, tentatively set for Oct. 13.

However, Foster says he’s not been provided with any information about a potential announcement.

“Nobody has come out and said no we’re not going to do it,” he said.

Patients will be moved from the existing hospital facility to the new Polson tower Sunday.