New waiting room to be much more pleasant
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of the “PRH: Making A Difference” series of articles appearing daily in the Penticton Herald until Nov. 3, highlighting Penticton Regional Hospital as it moves towards the opening of its new patient care tower in the spring of 2019.
Patients requiring blood tests or dropping off other samples at Penticton Regional Hospital’s lab will soon find things much more comfortable.
The new David E. Kampe Tower under construction at PRH will include a much larger outpatient blood collection centre. Currently, patients awaiting lab work must sit among a half-dozen chairs in a busy hallway between the hospital’s main (central) and south pavilions.
Pathologist Dr. Susan Tebbutt said although the laboratory’s technical area is not moving into the new tower, the new collection centre will be a marked improvement over the current facility.
“As it is now, the chairs do encroach on the hallway of a main thoroughfare in the hospital,” Tebbutt said. “Now there will be a proper waiting room sectioned off — a much more pleasant area.”
About 100 to 150 people a day utilize the outpatient lab. Tebbutt said most patients realize the current situation reflects the aging infrastructure of the existing hospital and that the opening of the new tower is only about 18 months away.
The new facility will include 15 chairs in the waiting room, plus four private blood sample collection cubicles and two patient washrooms. There will also be a bed for patients to lie down if they don’t feel well after giving a blood sample.
“The actual blood draw areas are far more private. They’re actually separate cubicles, with separate printers for our staff to print the labels for the samples,” she said.
Samples will be immediately delivered by a pneumatic tube system to the main lab for processing.
While pneumatic tubes used for delivering mail and small parcels in office buildings haven’t been seen for decades, they are still utilized within many hospitals for quickly sending drugs, documents and specimens to and from laboratories and nurses’ stations.
“Other departments will be using the tubes too. Samples will come down from the wards to the lab,” she said. “I have used them previously at other hospitals.”
Tebbutt said the entire outpatient area is designed to be very patient-friendly. It will be located on the main floor of the new tower, not far from its front entrance off Government Street. Other outpatient services will also be located nearby, including X-rays, respiratory services, and heart services.
The lab has more than 50 full and part-time staff members, including Dr. Tebbutt and two other pathologists. The hospital is now looking to recruit another pathologist as well.
PRH is undergoing a $312-million expansion and the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation is raising $20 million to provide the medical equipment required. To donate, contact the SOS Medical Foundation at 250-492-9027 or visit our website.
Dellene Lewendon, a medical lab technician at Penticton Regional Hospital, prepares to take a blood sample from Susanne Zelmer. The new PRH patient care tower will include a much roomier blood sample collection area, including a more patient-friendly waiting room for the outpatient lab.