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Council cheers on $80-million RIH expansion

Royal Inland Hospital medical clinic/parkade building project manager Martin Deheer (left) and architect Ken Johnson address city council on Tuesday, Nov. 20.  - DAVE EAGLES/KTW
Royal Inland Hospital medical clinic/parkade building project manager Martin Deheer (left) and architect Ken Johnson address city council on Tuesday, Nov. 20. 
— image credit: DAVE EAGLES/KTW

An $80-million expansion at Royal Inland Hospital has taken another step forward as Kamloops city council signed off this week on the preliminary design of a new seven-storey clinical-services building.

The building, which will include three floors of parking and commercial space at street level, will move many of the hospital’s outpatient and diagnostic services out of the main building.

RIH administrator Marg Brown said the new building will bring together services that have previously been scattered around the city, including dementia and chronic-pain clinics and pre-surgical screening.

“There’s bits of pieces of these located throughout the city or Interior Health, but there’s nothing in Kamloops that colates them,” she said.

While filling some positions in the building will require doctor recruitment, Brown said there are strategies in place to deal with those needs, noting many services will be covered with other personnel, such as nurse practitioners and social workers, or staff who are already working in the city, but not at RIH.

Brown said the building will also address major access issues, particularly for those coming to the hospital for tests or to visit family.

“It can be very challenging for them to secure parking spots and you see a large number of people trying to walk up the stairs as well, and some of them are fairly elderly that are trying to navigate and get up the stairs,” she said.

The permit received unanimous approval, with many councillors cheering the project on.

“If I could do the happy dance right now, I would,” said Coun. Nelly Dever, who predicted the 350 new parking spaces in the building would reduce many of the ongoing parking and congestion problems on residential streets near RIH.

Brown told KTW there remains plenty of work to do to get the building to the construction stage.

A business case for the building is due to the provincial government by the end of the year and it’s not clear how long it will take Victoria to approve the preliminary design.

Once it is approved, “it’s actually sitting down then with the blocks of space we’ve allotted and then they’ll start putting in the detail,” Brown said.

“Right now, it’s kind of like the macro plan and this would get down to the micro detail.”

Once construction begins, the building will take between 26 and 28 months to complete.

 

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