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Interior Health encourages West Kelowna to explore public private health centre partnership

A recent letter from Dr. Robert Halpenny, president and CEO of Interior Health, will allow West Kelowna to "keep the ball moving" on the dream of developing a health centre.

Dr. Halpenny's letter—sent to Findlater on April 10—reads in part, "I would propose that the district take the lead on exploring the involvement of third party participation in the development of the (health centre) project, along with taking the lead on canvassing community stakeholders about their interest in co-locating services to the Elliott Road location."

Findlater said the letter allows West Kelowna to explore some of its different options.

"There's some preliminary kind of work that needs to be done to assess what the health needs are and who the players are," said Findlater.

"We don't want this to just drop. This is a way that we can keep the ball moving and put something meaningful, in terms of healthcare and economic development, on that particular site."

According to the mayor, the letter is good news for West Kelowna.

"I’d hoped for a little more definitive answer, but they're in the business of doing this kind of thing, so they've outlined some preliminary steps," said Findlater.

"It allows us to craft a partnership with them and keep this going."

The issue of a health centre on the Westside is one that is important to many living west of the bridge.

In January, over 300 West Kelowna residents attended a forum where Dr. Halpenny and Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart spoke about the potential of an urgent care centre.

"It shows that people are very keen on seeing something happen," said Findlater.

Findlater said that the public needs to be consulted to see what the needs in the community are and then communication needs to take place with potential third party partners.

Although Findlater said he thinks public private health care partnerships are "pretty rare," he said, "it's probably the way things are going to go."

"We see this as a consolidation of many of the existing services on the Westside, as well as in its mature form, (the addition of) some new services."

According to Findlater, district staff will be bringing a strategy to council in the coming weeks that will explore council's options.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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