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Site work to begin for new Campbell River hospital

The leader of the new hospital project promised the city’s business community there will be plenty of opportunities to bid on contracts and to supply goods and services.

Tom Sparrow also stood by the P3 (public-private partnership) agreement to build the $266 million hospital and to maintain the facility for the next 30 years.

“Canada is a real good garden for the incubation of P3s,” the hospital’s chief project officer said at the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce luncheon last Thursday, “(and) B.C. is the best province in dealing with P3s.”

Critics, including local NDP MLA Claire Trevena, want to see the complete business plan and find out how much money the government has committed to the 30-year maintenance contract. So far though, the only firm number is the $600 million committed to building the local hospital and the new hospital in the Comox Valley.

In his presentation, Sparrow did show a 30-year graph on the P3 payment scheme and it indicates an annual budget of approximately $2 million for facility management services.

There are other costs as well, including repayment of loans, and it shows annual costs for both facilities – once they’re operational – to start at about $7.5 million and increase incrementally to around $11.5 million in 2040.

The real benefit, Sparrow added, is the long-term upkeep of the hospital facility. The contractor will be financially penalized if things aren’t in working order and the contract does allow the province to retake control of maintenance if the contractor fails to live up to the agreement.

Dan MacLennan, a spokesman for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, sums up the problem by pointing to the 55-year-old Campbell River Hospital which he called, “an old facility starved for maintenance.”

The hope is when the 30-year-contract is complete, the health authority will take over a hospital in excellent shape with a building  life expectancy of a century.

As for construction, site clearing for two gravel parking lots, just south of Yucalta Lodge, begins this month and site preparation will continue this year.

Ground breaking for the new hospital is slated to begin in April 2014 and construction will last three years. There will then be a holding period of about six months, allowing for the move-over and staff training in their new digs.

And the new hospital will be outfitted with the latest technology in both design and equipment, which bodes well, said Sparrow, for attracting health care workers to the area. The hospital will also offer training opportunities for doctors and closed-circuit video to provide distance training.

Work stations will be ergonomically designed, based on consultations with staff and the hospital is also designed from the patient’s point-of-view. The emergency department will be three times bigger and new moms will be able to go through labour, birth, recovery and postpartum care all in one “home-like” room.

In fact, most of the 95 beds will be in larger, single-patient rooms with self-contained bathrooms. And speaking of washrooms, there will be no gender- or staff-specific facilities in the hospital in order to maximize space.

In terms of business opportunities, Sparrow said the general contractors – three consortiums are in the running – are mandated to seek out local supplies and services. There should be also opportunities for apprenticeships.

A full list of services and jobs required appeared in Sparrow’s presentation and the health authority has promised to post the PDF document on its website (Search: North Island Hospital Projects), but had not done so as of Tuesday morning.

The chamber of commerce also plans to be actively involved in spreading information and has created a website (cr.majorprojects.ca), but so far the only news posted is about the $1 billion BC Hydro project to rebuild the John Hart generating station.

paulr@campbellrivermirror.com

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