A caterpillar shovel plunging into the parking lot pavement marked the groundbreaking Tuesday for JoeAnna’s house, a 20-room facility for out-of-town patient family members at Kelowna General Hospital.
While construction is now officially underway on the project, the fundraising aspect continues as the campaign so far has surpassed $7 million in seeking to meet its $8 million objective.
“I am so excited. I just can’t believe it,” echoed Doug Rankmore, chief executive officer of the KGH Foundation, which has coordinated the fundraising campaign in partnership with the Huber and Schneider families, owners of Prestige Hotels and Resorts.
Prestige committed $1 million in support of JoeAnna’s House, named after family patriarchs Joe and Anna Huber.
Rankmore said the idea of the housing project has been years in the discussion process, so to see all the hurdles overcome to reach the groundbreaking point was for him “a fantastic moment.”
|Caterpillar shovel breaks ground on JoeAnna’s House project at Kelowna General Hospital site. Photo: Barry Gerding/Black Press|
“JoeAnna’s House will be a safe haven for many people facing a great challenge. For some, it will be a loved one in trouble, enduring many dark times. For some literally not knowing what the next day will bring,” he said.
“When people’s lives are being turned upside down, we are hoping JoeAnna’s House will be a place of recovery and healing, and confident that for many who arrive to stay here in dark times and dark hours will leave with much more hope in their hearts.”
He called JoeAnna’s House a facility built from the generosity of people in Kelowna and across the Interior Health region.
“This is a house built on good wishes,” he said.
Andrew Hughes, KGH health services administrator, noted currently their are five babies under neo-natal care in the hospital and the moms for all five are from outside Kelowna.
“In total, we have 100 patients admitted to the hospital as of this morning that are from out of town,” Hughes said.
He said while KGH has become a focal point for medical treatment resources for the Southern Interior, it still is a major trek for people living in the Cariboo or the Kootenays with loved ones requiring at the hospital, and finding temporary accommodation for the loved ones of patients is one of the biggest challenges.
“We don’t often send patients to Vancouver anymore which is positive as we have some of the best care available in the country here in Kelowna, but people who live outside of Kelowna such as Williams Lake, Golden or the Kootenays still have to travel here,” he said.
Terry Schneider, president of Prestige Hotels & Resorts, said their family was thrilled to see this project break ground on construction which will be completed next year.
“We never dreamed how much positive reception this project would have, the support we would get from the City of Kelowna and all the citizens. It is so gratifying for us to see,” Schneider said.
The building contract for JoeAnna’s House has been awarded to Team Construction, a Kelowna firm.
Project manager Chuck Cullen acknowledged that building JoeAnna’s House on a current parking lot will place more pressure on people driving to and from the hospital.
“We apologize for that up front for those coming around looking for a place to park and extend an invitation to any neighbours who want to talk with us and be part of that conversation,” said Chuck Cullen, construction project manager.
“We don’t want to displace anyone but this is a project that will involve short-term pain for long-term gain.”