Erwin Malzer

Erwin Malzer

VJH project nearing an end

IHA chairperson Erwin Malzer visited Vernon Monday as part of his regional tour of the health authority.

Health care is moving up in Vernon.

Along with 85 new residential care beds planned locally, Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s top two floors in the Polson Tower are nearing completion.

“It’s on time and as planned,” said Erwin Malzer, Interior Health Authority chairperson. “It will be fully operational by next year.”

Malzer visited  Vernon Monday as part of his regional tour of the health authority.

He met with local government representatives, MLA Eric Foster, the hospital administration team, physicians, staff members and more to discuss challenges and successes and receive progress reports on new initiatives and projects.

“There is a beautiful, brand new floor upstairs,” said Foster of the $30-million expansion which will add 60 beds to the Polson Tower (30 on each floor).

Of those, 16 will be new beds and the remaining 46 will be relocated from elsewhere in the hospital.

The move ends the days of cramming four patients in a single room.

“They’re not just better for patients and families, they are much better for staff,” said Malzer of a single-bed room such as those in the new tower.

“They are much more spacious, much more comfortable.”

But VJH isn’t the only place gaining beds locally. IHA has put out the tender for 85 new residential care beds in Vernon, along with 100 in Kelowna.

“There have been multiple bids and we should hear shortly,” said Malzer.

Meanwhile, the shortage of family physicians continues to be a problem in the region, particularly for the smaller communities.

“We promote the recruitment of physicians,” said Malzer. “A lot of that is working with communities to help make them more attractive.”

During his tour, Malzer was also made aware of some additional issues at VJH. But he would not divulge any details.

“We are aware of the challenges and we are always looking to improve,” he said, noting that there are only so many dollars to go around.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund said the aging and outdated psychiatric unit was one area hospital staff pointed out on the tour.