The Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is moving forward with plans to build the Sun Peaks Health Centre, forecasting completion by next winter.
“We are going to push darn hard to get that happening,” said Al Raine, mayor of SPMRM. “At a meeting with Interior Health I said we want to be able to invite the Minister of Health to open the building in December of 2016.”
The clinic has been a priority in the community for years. In 2012, 95 per cent of polled residents ranked it as the most important facility needed according to an official Community Plan Facility survey.
The municipality has planned to break ground in summer of 2016 and have the centre usable by the winter. It will be used as a space for a family medical practice in addition for use as an urgent care centre for those injured in the resort while skiing or biking.
“There are injuries, and serious injuries, from time to time,” said Raine. “We need to be able to stabilize those patients on the hill.”
Despite delays, SPMRM and the Sun Peaks Health Association (SPHA) have already raised over one million dollars for the construction of the centre, with more money expected to be raised through additional fundraising in the interim.
“We can only build what we can afford” said Raine. “We need to be practical.”
The centre is expected to be located beside Bento’s Day Lodge for easy access from the skiing area and from the nearby first aid locations already in operation. Location was a key consideration because it’s a priority to allow for the flow of patients from Ski Patrol to the clinic while maintaining privacy.
Currently some patients need to be stabilized in the resort for over an hour before they’re able to be transported to a Kamloops hospital by ambulance. The Health Centre will allow for an even greater level of care for those waiting for transportation.
While Raine emphasized the current staff and volunteers are excellent and very well trained, he said there was still a large need for the local clinic.
“We have a number of young families as well as seniors and retired people who need access to a clinic without driving into Kamloops,” he said.
Raine doesn’t predict any problems attracting a doctor to the mountain.
“It would be someone looking for the lifestyle” he said.
He described someone who would appreciate “fresh tracks” in the morning before going into work, and said there are already medical professionals living in the community who may wish to be involved.
The clinic will be supplemented by volunteer physicians whose work will be vital to the clinic’s operation, especially on the days where a main physician is not practising.