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New Campbell River hospital details unveiled

The new Campbell River hospital will be larger than the existing facility but don’t expect the full expansion of beds any time soon.

Vancouver Island Health Authority has said it will build a 95 bed hospital but not all of those beds will be there when the hospital opens its doors, according to the director of the North Island Hospitals Project.

Grant Hollett, the health authority’s interim project director, told city council during a delegation Tuesday night that 95 beds is a 2025/2026 target – that’s eight to nine years after the health authority’s estimated 2017 opening.

Some of those beds will be reserved for mental-health and addictions, a service expected to move in part from the Comox Valley to Campbell River hospital.

Hollett said all existing services at the hospital will remain intact but one of the key elements of the project is improved parking.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that parking is one of the most critical challenges on the site for patients and staff,” Hollett said. “When this new hospital is completed and finished, the old one will be demolished completely and the area will be converted to parking.”

Conceptual plans show the health authority would like to have a two-storey parking garage, in a building separate from the hospital. Hollett said the hospital will have 408 parking stalls – currently there are 257.

Hollett said during construction, the hospital will lose a number of parking stalls, primarily for staff.

“We’re looking at alternate areas for parking, such as the plateau on the west side of Yucalta Lodge” and possibly around the curling rink and on Birch Street. Hollett said the health authority is looking into the possibility of using shuttles to get people to and from the existing hospital building.

The heli-pad, now located at the back of the hospital near the emergency ward is also expected to be affected.

“We’ll have to move the heli-pad off site while we’re doing construction,” Hollett said.

The new 21,000 square metre, $266 million hospital is expected to include a clinical support building available for the University of British Columbia to use as a teaching space and accommodations. It will also include a First Nations wellness centre.

The hospital is expected to have an emphasis on single-patient rooms with a private bathroom to prevent the spread of infections, to reduce patient transfers and falls, and to reduce readmissions and lengths of stay.

Hollett also explained the public-private partnership that both new hospitals in Campbell River and the Comox Valley will operate under. With the agreement, the health authority will still own and control the building and deliver publicly-funded health care services, but an outside, private company will be responsible for maintenance of the buildings for 30 years.

The process of creating the new hospital is already underway. A call for qualified contractors was issued in June and closes Aug. 8. After that date, a shortlist of three will be developed and a Request for Proposal will be issued to the companies this fall. The Request for Proposal process is expected to take nine to 12 months and construction is expected to begin in late 2013 or early 2014. Anticipated completion is mid-to-late 2017.

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