The ceremonial handover of the keys Friday morning marked completion of the Interior Health’s new Community Health and Services Centre in downtown Kelowna.
The new $46 million building will headquarter Interior Health’s operations in the city, provide space for public health programs and services, as well as house corporate offices. It will be fully open to the public by December.
Owned by investment first Bentall Kennedy and leased to IH for $2.8 million per year, the building will see a consolidation of eight different IH sites throughout the city moved under one roof.
“This is a game-changer— not only for health care delivery but for downtown revitalization,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, who was a councillor on the previous city council that came up with the idea of IH consolidating it’s city operations downtown on land that used to be a municipal parking lot.
SInce then, construction of the new Innovation Centre kitty corner to the Community Health and Services Centre has started, as well as an addition to the nearby library parkade and construction of a new parkade across the street, beside Memorial Arena.
Basran predicted that once all the construction is complete around the intersection of Doyle Avenue and Ellis Street, it will be the busiest intersection between Vancouver and Calgary.
Current IH board chairman Irwin Malzer also credited the previous city council with coming up with the idea of the new building downtown for IH, a building expected to see as many as 800 people working there and providing services to 500 people per day.
“This was the city’s dream, they came to us with the idea,” he said.
The new five-storey building will bring together services previously housed in eight separate facilities around town that IH currently leases. These include public health, home health, chronic disease management, mental health and substance use, preschool speech, and audiology, as well as administrative support services. The new building will include a large community clinic, group rooms and other spaces that will allow enough room for more services to be added in the future as needed.
“In addition to housing more than 800 Interior Health employees, the Community Health and Services Centre will provide more than 54,000-square-feet of space to meet the needs of clients accessing health-care services in the local community,” added Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, who along with Kelowna-Mission MLA Sreve Thomson was on hand to tour of the new building.
He said the model being used by IH here not only benefits patients, but makes good use of tax dollars by co-ordinating care in one centralized location.
All public patient care will be provided on the building’s second floor. The upper floors will house office space for IH staff. The ground floor is a two-storey-high foyer, overlooked by a large, glassed-in waiting room on the second floor adjacent to the patient services area.
The building has some on-site parking for employees, with IH leasing more parking from the city in the extension to the library parkade down the street, said Malzer.
While not at the ceremony, Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna, whose riding includes the area of downtown where the new building is located, said in a news release that bringing community health services together under one roof will allow resources to go where they should— patient care
“As the Central Okanagan continues to grow in population, Interior Health is ensuring health care services grow along with it,” she said.
IH staff and programs will move into the building through a phased process over the next six weeks, with much of the move taking place at night and on weekends.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect amount for how much IH will be leasing its new building for per year.