Regional hospital district offers to pay for extra floor on new heart centre

An offer of $8.3 million has been made to add a fourth floor to the planned new Interior Health and Surgical Centre.

The Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District says it is willing to pay for a fourth floor on the planned new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre at Kelowna General Hospital.

Regional district board chairman Robert Hobson said the hospital district has offered to pay $8.3 million for a shelled-in fourth floor on the new building, which is currently envisioned as a three-storey complex.

“We just thought this would be a very good use of taxpayer dollars,” said Hobson, who added an earlier offer to the provincial government for the hospital district to lend Victoria the 60 per cent of the cost of the extra floor that it has traditionally contributed to such capital projects was rebuffed.

Hobson said to get two extra floors added to KGH’s new six-storey Centenial Tower—a building slated to open May 27— the hospital district lend Victoria just over $17 million to cover its share of the addition to the $280-million tower.

But a similar offer for the heart centre was rejected by the provincial treasury board, said Hobson, amid growing pressure on Interior Health to open shelled-in space in the new patient care tower at Vernon’s Jubilee Hospital. That space has now been opened up.

Hobson said the hospital district hopes to hear back from Victoria about the heart centre offer soon.

“We hope to receive a favourable response in the near future from the Ministry of Health on our funding offer, as the opportunity to take advantage of the associated savings is closing on the construction contract.”

The regional district chairman said the offer to pay for an extra floor on the heart centre was made because it would be cheaper to include the additional floor in the initial construction, Interior Health has identified it as important to the project, the additional of an extra floor later could trigger expensive building code changes to other parts of the hospital and doing the work now could save as much as  $8.8 million.

Hobson also noted that while the top two floors of the Centennial Tower were initially slated to be shelled-in for later use, when the tower opens, large parts of both will be in full use. He said he expects that will be the same situation with a fourth floor on the heart centre building.

The $480-million Interior Hearth and Surgical Centre is to be built on the site of KGH’s existing Pandosy Building. The Pandosy Building is to be demolished later this year. The heart centre is expected to open in 2016 and will make KGH just the fifth full cardiac care centre in B.C.

The Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District has already approved a $91.3-million contribution towards the capital cost of the heart centre.