Princeton Rotary wine festival to boost PRH tower drive

Princeton Rotary members present a $15,000 cheque to Walter Despot of Keremeos (front row, second from right), board chair of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. The Rotary club hopes to complete its $30,000 donation to help provide the medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion after its annual Wine Festival at the Riverside Centre on Feb. 18.

Princeton Rotary’s upcoming annual wine festival will provide a regional boost for Penticton Regional Hospital.

The Rotary Club of Princeton has pledged to donate $30,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to provide the medical equipment for the new PRH patient care tower.

The club has already contributed $15,000 and now hopes to raise the remainder with proceeds from its popular wine festival on February 18 at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Community Centre in Princeton. Wineries from throughout the Similkameen and South Okanagan will serve some of their best wines, while the event also features appetizers, a silent auction and more. Tickets are $40 each, available from Princeton Rotary members and the Royal Lepage office on Vermillion Avenue.

Rotary president Mike Talarico said even with the community still very supportive of Princeton General Hospital, club members unanimously supported the decision to donate to the PRH campaign.

Our hospital does great things, but it’s just a small hospital, he said. For anything major, people are sent to Penticton.

Talarico emphasized PRH is the regional hospital for the entire South Okanagan-Similkameen. In 2015, there were about 2,500 visits to PRH by Princeton area residents.

It’s hoped the PRH expansion, which includes an entire floor for the UBC Faculty of Medicine program, will attract more physicians to the area. This could also result in more family doctors opting to practise in smaller communities like Princeton.

The nicest thing for us is the local people and businesses support us in all our fundraising efforts, he said. We’re getting more support every day from people realizing that a regional hospital is benefiting all of us.

Although the 70-year-old Princeton Rotary club currently only has about a dozen members, they remain a vibrant force in the community. They recently completed a four-year $70,000 campaign for a new kitchen at the Riverside Centre arts theatre.

Princeton Rotary hosts two major fundraisers a year. In addition to the wine festival, a golf tournament is held in June.

Construction of the new tower at PRH is now underway and should be ready for patients by early 2019. Work will then begin on Phase 2  an expansion of the hospital’s Emergency Department to almost four times its existing size.