Eric Foster (centre)

Eric Foster (centre)

Ribbon cut on new floors at hospital

Since use of the sixth and seventh floors of the Polson Tower began, there has been a flow of patients using the 60 beds.

The newest addition to Vernon Jubilee Hospital is a busy place.

Since use of the sixth and seventh floors of the Polson Tower began Jan. 31, there has been a flow of patients using the 60 beds.

“There have been no significant issues,” said Richard Harding, hospital administrator.

“Everything is working as intended. The feedback from the patients is absolutely fantastic.”

A ceremony was held Friday to officially open the two floors.

“Speaking to the staff working there, they are thrilled,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

The completed Polson Tower adds 16,,815 square metres of space to the VJH site. This increased space has allowed for the expansion of operating rooms and the emergency department.

The majority of the 60 beds are single patient rooms, which provide enhanced infection control and added privacy and security.

Fourteen of the beds are new, with the remaining 46 relocated from elsewhere in the hospital.

The $30 million budget for the project came from the provincial government, the North Okanagan-Columbia-Shuswap Regional Hospital District and the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation.

“You can’t get significant facilities without incredible partnerships,” said Erwin Malzer, Interior Health Authority chairperson.

“This is a significant investment in providing health care.”

The VJH Foundation raised $2.5 million to equip and furnish the two floors.

“It’s our mandate to improve health care locally,” said Elise Allan, foundation president.

“It (floors) represents a modernization of health care for North Okanagan residents.”

When the first five floors of the tower were opened in 2011, the regional hospital district contributed funds to shell in the sixth and seventh floors to accommodate future growth.

Now vacant four-bed wards in the old part of the hospital will be reconfigured into semi-private rooms.

But even with the changes, overcrowding at VJH is still a challenge.

“Capacity is an ongoing issue,” said Harding.

“We are working on a daily basis to transition patients out (of the hospital).”