Westbank First Nations plans to build a 100-bed private hospital next to the band's office off Highway 97 at Westside Road.
The band is 'very strongly' considering construction of the $120 million medical centre at Highway 97 and Westside Road to begin next month and to finish by early 2016, Louie said. Once it opens, patients from across Canada and beyond would pay out of pocket for most medical services, including organ surgery, joint replacement and cosmetic surgery.
The band's other objective is to improve the health of aboriginal people. Doctors will have full lab and diagnostic services, Louie said. They'll conduct research into diabetes and heart disease, and treat people long-distance by using closed-circuit TV.
"That's one way of saving huge amounts of money - bringing experts to do that," he said. "We're trying to minimize and save costs and have a better service - that's our goal. We know the health system is full of flaws. Anyone in that medical facility will tell you that."
The band is joining Ad Vitam Healthcare Ltd., which represents private investors in Canada, to build and operate the facility in a 50-50 partnership.
The first phase would feature 10 operating rooms, high-end food services and full lab and diagnostic services. The band may also buy a private jet to fly patients to destinations like Vancouver.
Research will become a primary focus, Louie said. Scientists at the Mayo Clinic have identified a gene linked to cancer that's unique to North American aboriginal people.
"We figure we can work on that gene. Whether it's stem cells or whether we look at further research to separate that gene, we may be able to prevent cancer in aboriginal peoples. That would be a major world breakthrough."
The federal government is responsible for providing health-care to aboriginal people through the Canadian Constitution. The hospital, tentatively called the Lake Okanagan Wellness Clinic, would use public funds to treat them.
The WFN, which has its own governance agreement with Ottawa, intends to dip into the billions of health-care dollars spent by Canadians on medical procedures outside the country. The band says it has its own constitution with Canada and can't be prevented from running a for-profit centre for medical tourists.
So far, Ottawa has not objected to the hospital operating outside Health Canada and its universal medical plan.
Canada, B.C. and the province's aboriginal people have agreed to transfer administrative responsibility for health care to a first-nations health authority and council as of Oct. 1, Louie said.
Hundreds of workers will be hired to build the 200,000-square-foot hospital and 400 full-time equivalents to operate it. The band has "stacks" of resumes and letters from researchers and administrators from high-profile facilities, he said.
"We have interest by nurses,
students, and universities that is simply huge. There will not be (a) shortage of staff."