Four major projects. More than 622,000 square feet of space. Nearly $703 million in investments. These numbers describe the major expansion going on at KGH – the Centennial Tower, the Clinical Support Building, the UBC Clinical Academic Campus, and the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre (IHSC). We’ve all heard these numbers, but what do they all mean?
Well, for starters it means a major increase in space. These new buildings are certainly big. To give you an idea of how big, imagine this: Take a typical Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Rona, Golf Town and Costco and add them together. That is how much new floor space is being added at KGH.
But so what? What does that mean? What are the benefits for residents? It’s a long list, including such things as a brand new Ophthalmology department, five brand new ORs, as well as a new and expanded Renal Department with 18 dialysis stations.
Here are some other benefits to help put all the expansion at KGH in perspective.
One benefit will be the greatly expanded Emergency Department – four times the size of the current one. In fact, two fully-equipped trauma bays will be larger than the current space, and there will be room for another trauma bay in the future.
Another benefit will be the highest level of medical care ever seen in the Interior when the IHSC opens. The IHSC will be an integrated critical care facility right here in Kelowna, which will allow patients to access top-notch care close to home. This will also greatly reduce stress on loved ones.
Among the patients benefitting from the IHSC will be cardiac patients – about 1,600 patients a year getting cardiac care right here in Kelowna. Patients and their families will not have to travel to the Coast anymore. The state-of-the-art surgical centre will also help with the recruitment and retention of highly qualified professionals.
The cardiac transition plan is already underway with angioplasty procedures being performed in the Strathcona Building at KGH. The first angioplasty ever performed outside Victoria and the Lower Mainland took place here on November 19, 2009. Open heart surgery is scheduled to begin in renovated ORs in the Strathcona Building by the end of 2012.
This means patients at IHSC will see a lot more of their loved ones when they need them the most.
Another benefit will be the training of new doctors right here in Kelowna. The UBC Clinical Academic Campus at KGH is now complete and students will take their first classes there in January. This is the fourth campus of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.
Now, students from Kelowna and throughout the Okanagan can study medicine closer to home. It also means students from other parts of British Columbia, other provinces and other countries will discover the Okanagan while studying here. I am willing to bet a lot of them will want to stay here and practice medicine after they graduate. To live in the Okanagan, after all, is to love the Okanagan.
Norm Letnick is MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. Visit his website at www.normletnickmla.bc.ca