The much-anticipated state of the art Patient Care Tower currently under construction at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops has reached an important milestone, and is another step closer to providing more and enhanced care for patients in Kamloops and the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap region.
During the week of Sept. 14, the project reached the “topping off” milestone, bringing the concrete phase to completion. The structural steel phase of the nine-storey tower is now underway, and it is expected that the tower will open its doors to patients in the summer of 2022.
To mark the end of one phase and the start of another, Interior Health gathered with its partners to mark the topping off milestone. Following all COVID-19 safety protocols, RIH staff and community stakeholders were invited to sign a 12-foot steel beam before it was hoisted and placed in its permanent location as part of the Patient Care Tower.
The new tower is a $417-million project that will feature single-patient rooms equipped with their own washrooms, which will enhance privacy and infection prevention and control measures. It will also include child and adolescent mental health services, maternal and child health services, respiratory therapy services, surgical suites, a mental health and substance use inpatient unit, and a rooftop helipad, as well as patient registration and retail space.
“Watching the Patient Care Tower progress since construction began has been uplifting,” says Thompson Regional Hospital District (TRHD) chair Ken Christian. “As one of only two tertiary hospitals in Interior Health, RIH is vital to all residents in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, and we are looking forward to the day it opens to patients in summer 2022.”
Construction began on the Patient Care Tower in September 2018. After it opens to patients, Phase 2 renovations will start. They will include significant renovation and expansion to the emergency department, pediatrics, post-anaesthetic recovery, and the morgue.
The project budget is shared between the Ministry of Health ($203 million), Interior Health ($22 million), the TRHD ($172 million), and the RIH Foundation ($20 million). The TRHD is funded through taxes collected from property owners in the region, including those in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton. In 2011, when the master site plan for RIH was approved, the TRHD’s share of the Patient Care Tower cost was pegged at approximately $72 million, and the TRHD doubled the taxation amount paid by the average assessed residence to $127 per year.
However, cost pressures increased the price tag of the new tower by nearly $150 million, an amount not anticipated in the 2011 taxation strategy. At its Sept. 16, 2016 meeting the TRHD board approved in principle the contribution of $172 million to fund its share of the Patient Care Tower, which it was estimated would add an average of $20 per year to the property tax bill of every residence in the TRHD region.