Occupational therapist Robbie King knows about new beginnings. Sixteen years ago, Robbie made the decision to cross the country from Toronto.
A native of Prince Edward Island, he was drawn west for the B.C. lifestyle. In Kamloops he became part of the care team at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH).
“I love working at RIH,” says Robbie. “The move to Kamloops has been everything I hoped it would be. It’s a great area to live and to work. Being a part of the health-care team at RIH is very rewarding.”
For Robbie, and the rest of the staff and physicians at RIH, change has been in the works since late 2018. That’s when construction began on the Phil & Jennie Gaglardi Tower at RIH, a nine-storey addition to the RIH campus that will open to patients in the summer of 2022.
The tower has been steadily rising. This fall, the construction project achieved its Topping Off milestone as the tower reached its full nine-storey height.
To celebrate, staff and physicians were invited to sign a construction beam that would be placed in the tower. For two days in September, more than 400 members of the RIH community signed the beam and received a keep-sake photograph.
One of those staffers was Robbie King, who said the event put a surge of positivity through the RIH campus.
“I really felt like the beam was like a time capsule that symbolized new beginnings being built on a strong foundation,” says Robbie. “It was a beautiful sunny day. It was a real positive vibe and I felt it helped to unite a lot of the staff at RIH together.”
The construction project has continued through the COVID-19 pandemic and the beam signing event was held with a COVID-19 safety plan in place with physical distancing and enhanced sanitizing of the area where staff gathered to sign.
With health-care workers also continuing to work during the pandemic, Robbie says it was a positive event that lifted the collective mood of RIH workers.
“I feel like it really brightened our day. It uplifted people’s moods. I could feel it throughout the whole hospital.” he says. “I felt the timing was really appropriate, especially in 2020.”
The event was organized by the RIH Foundation, EllisDon, RIH leadership and Interior Health Capital Planning & Projects. Close to 400 staff and physicians, along with community partners from the Thompson Regional Hospital District, the RIH Foundation and Kamloops’ Aboriginal groups signed the beam.
Once all of the signatures were in place, Secwépemc elders from Bonaparte and Tk'emlups smudged the beam before it was lifted to the roof of the tower, accompanied by traditional Secwépemc drumming and singing.
"This ceremony took place to honour the new Patient Care Tower site with prayers from the Secwépemc Elders to protect and watch over the land and all who enter the site. It was a beautiful day in Tk’emlups te Secwépemc,” says Cara Basil of the Secwepemc Health Caucus.
Featuring single-patient rooms with enhanced privacy and infection prevention and control measures and state-of-the-art equipment, the Phil & Jennie Gaglardi Tower at RIH will change the way health care is delivered in Kamloops.
Work is continuing on the tower which will open to patients in the summer of 2022.