Timing is everything, especially when it comes to government funding.
How much money does the province have to spend? How much is it in debt? How close is it to an election?
We’re less than a year off; on May 14, 2013 British Columbians choose their next government.
For the past five years, Kamloops has watched while hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into hospitals in Kelowna and Vernon.
In fact, you could follow the progress of $435 million worth of work on the two hospitals at their own website created by Interior Health. The site also includes the $448 million Interior Heart and Surgical Centre project in Kelowna.
The announcement that the government approved the huge expansion plans came on May 4, 2007 — a time when then-premier Gordon Campbell and his government were under scrutiny for their burgeoning Olympic spending while dealing with concerns about health-care budgets and service levels.
Fast forward to this spring. Both Kelowna General and Vernon Jubilee hospitals have opened up their shiny new facilities. But Vernon residents and politicians went above and beyond; they created such noise the province threw in some bonus millions so they could open up extra beds in their just-built patient-care tower. Ahead of schedule and ahead of other, higher priority projects at hospitals in other Interior communities — like Royal Inland Hospital, which serves a huge area as pretty much the sole health-care facility.
Unlike Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton, which are clustered relatively close together and can provide backup to each other, Kamloops has no other nearby facility that could help offset patient pressures if necessary.
The closest would be Merritt, which has been downgraded from 48 to eight beds, and which is called a “health centre,” not a hospital.
The city’s two MLAs have said we can expect some good news about the Royal Inland master site plan within a couple of months. But they’ve also said to expect things to be done in stages, not the full-on spending of millions at once.
That’s too little and stretching it out way too late. Yes, RIH has had upgrades to its emergency area, intensive-care unit and sterilization unit. But the first two were much needed for years before anything happened and the sterilization upgrade only came after several appalling incidents occurred.
It’s time for action to be taken with RIH. It’s time Victoria realized our hospital is serving a huge area on its own. And it might be time for residents to get loud about it.
May 14, 2013 is less than a year away.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.