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Richmond Hospital will be cutting edge

By Don Fennell

Published 3:08 PDT, Fri July 16, 2021

Last Updated: 3:31 PDT, Fri July 16, 2021

New cancer care clinic among many planned upgrades, features

When the renovation and expansion of Richmond Hospital is fully completed in 2029, it will have ushered in a new era in community healthcare.

But the journey will begin almost immediately, with design work set to include initial renovations to the Milan Ilich Pavilion. Construction on those renovations will start in 2022 to accommodate cancer care and other services.

“I’m ecstatic,” says Natalie Meixner, president and chief executive officer of the Richmond Hospital Foundation. “(This project) touches every area of acute care and the community will end up with innovation throughout.”

Phases 1 and 2 of the four-phase project will also include relocation of services and demolition of the park centre and rotunda buildings. The park centre is currently home to a cancer care clinic and psychiatric emergency unit, while the rotunda hosts offices and meeting rooms. This stage will be further highlighted by construction of the new Yurkovich Family Pavilion (a nine-floor patient care tower), honouring two of the biggest donors to the Richmond Hospital Foundation.

The years between 2024 and 2027 will address the forecasted growth of Richmond with a doubling of the number of rooms, noted Meixner, who says the support of donors to this project can’t be overstated.

“Every single step is about enhancing care for the people who live and work here. It’s really going to be so great for our community.”

Mayor Malcolm Brodie looks forward with equal optimism.

“There is no question the modernization of our hospital is absolutely necessary,” he says, crediting the provincial government for having a long-range vision.

“The government had the foresight to go back to the drawing board and expand dramatically the scope of a project (that delivers a) first-class healthcare facility.”

As the province moves ahead with an approved business plan for the expanded hospital, Premier John Horgan also reiterated with last Tuesday’s announcement the need for more beds and more surgical space. The four-phase project will add 113 new beds bringing the total to 353. The new Yurkovich Family Pavilion will also feature an emergency department with 82 spaces, up from the current 60, and an increase in operating rooms to 11 from eight. The number of pre- and post-surgical care spaces will nearly triple to 69 from 26.

Additionally, the new tower—earthquake-safe and carbon neutral—will include a fully-equipped medical imaging department with four CT scanners and two MRIs; a pharmacy; and short-stay pediatrics.

"Work is needed at Richmond Hospital and it's long overdue for people in this fast-growing community," says Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Further improvements include redevelopment of the south tower to create new inpatient psychiatry and psychiatric emergency units so existing services will be in one location and brought up to modern standards. It will also have a maternity ward and neonatal intensive care unit.

The Milan Ilich Pavilion will also be redeveloped and be home to the cancer care clinic, outpatient clinics and the UBC school of medicine.

Some 1,500 direct jobs and 900 indirect jobs are expected to be created during construction.

"For people who need mental health care, we're building a system where treatment is on par with any other health condition,” says Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This will be a game-changer and I'm grateful to everyone involved in making this expansion a reality."

Vancouver Coastal Health board chair Penny Ballem says the project represents another big step forward in its vision for an innovative and modern acute care facility that meets the growing needs of the Richmond community.

“The expansion will increase access, services and our ability to better serve patients and clients for years to come,” she concludes.

The project now proceeds to early works and procurement. Design work will begin immediately on initial renovations to the Milan Ilich Pavilion, with construction on those renovations starting in 2022 to accommodate cancer care and other services. The north tower is expected to open to patients in 2028. Completion of the south tower and additional work in the Milan Ilich Pavilion is scheduled for 2029.

The total project cost is about $860.8 million and will be shared by the provincial government through Vancouver Coastal Health and the Richmond Hospital Foundation.

Richmond Hospital opened in 1964 and has 240 beds, serving Richmond, South Vancouver and Delta, as well as people using Vancouver International Airport and BC Ferries. The six-floor north tower is home to surgical suites, medical imaging, a pharmacy, as well as administrative, academic and support services.

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