The provincial government confirmed on February 5 that it has approved construction of a new patient-care tower at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops. The nine-storey, $417 million tower will be constructed on the eastern side of the RIH site, on what is now a parking lot for hospital staff.
It will contain 11 new operating rooms, and is also expected to house a 30-bed medical/surgery inpatient unit, a 30-bed medical/mental health adaptive inpatient unit, a 30-bed mental health inpatient unit, labour delivery, a neonatal intensive care unit, and additional clinical space, as well as retail space, parking, and eventually a helipad on the roof.
Some 80 per cent of the new patient rooms will be private, minimizing the risk of infection and providing patients with a more comfortable and less noisy environment in which to recover. Also included in the cost of the tower is renovation of the existing building, particularly an extensive upgrade and expansion of the current emergency department, which would see it double in size.
The patient-care tower will be the largest and most expensive construction project ever undertaken in Kamloops, and will employ some 2,400 people during the building process. Identifying potential bidders on the project will begin in May 2017, and construction is expected to start within 12 to 18 months. It is estimated that the tower will be completed, and open to patients, in 2022. Work on the existing building and emergency department is anticipated to start in 2021, and be completed by 2024.
Some $225 million of the building’s cost will come from the province and Interior Health. The Thompson Regional Hospital District (TRHD) has committed $172 million, and the Royal Inland Foundation has pledged $20 million. The Foundation attemps to raise $4 million each year, but has increased their annual target to $5 million.
At a meeting in September 2016, the TRHD board approved in principle its contribution of $172 million, with board chair Peter Milobar noting that approval of the request would add an average of $20 per year to the property tax bill of every residence in the TRHD’s area.
Speaking to The Journal last September, Milobar was blunt about the need for the tax increase. “A lot of people don’t appreciate that these things come at a cost,” he said of the new facility. “This is not negotiable. We either approve the $20 [increase] and get [the patient-care tower], or we don’t get it. We have to bite the bullet.”
When asked how long the extra $20 per year charge will continue, he replied, “It depends on how much we have to borrow and how long for. It will be ten years at least, and it will be reviewed after that according to the amount of the debt and the final payments.
“It’s a significant investment that will allow people to see what modern health care looks like.
Health Minister Terry Lake told The Journal that the new patient-care tower will have “a transformative effect on health care in the entire region. [RIH] is a tertiary hospital that services the entire region, and the new tower will increase capacity for many services.”
The most recent addition to RIH was the completion of a clinical services building and parkade at a cost of close to $80 million in 2016. Prior to that, the largest addition to RIH was construction of the northwest wing in 1988.