Estimated costs for the redevelopment of Cariboo Memorial Hospital have increased substantially, Mayor Walt Cobb said.
“It was originally about $115 million but it’s now over $130 million,” Cobb told the Tribune. “We are supposed to know by the end of this month what the preliminary figures are.”
Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District Chair Bob Simpson said issues such as adding a helipad, new standards for care and operating rooms, plus combining the new part of the facility with the old, all go into the increased price tag.
It is not only the cost of renovating hospitals that is going up, but all construction projects, Simpson added.
“There is a very significant price escalation going on across the board on all major and minor projects. Material costs are increasing as well as the cost of qualified and trained contractors and workers.”
The business plan is still being developed and should be complete by the end of 2018 or early 2019 for submission to the provincial government, Simpson said, noting the plan will have to come back to the CCRHD with a request for 40 per cent funding.
Williams Lake physician Glenn Fedor said there are several working groups meeting about the redevelopment plan.
“It was built in 1962, there was a redevelopment in about 1991, 1992 and so now when we approach 2020, I see we are planning for the next 30 years,” Fedor told the Tribune.
“We want to make Cariboo Memorial Hospital the poster child as an Aboriginal friendly, culturally sensitive place for First Nations.”
Working with Williams Lake child psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Burke on mental health care aspects for the redevelopment, Fedor said they are planning for eight in-patient psychiatric beds, as well as still having Gateway, the existing crisis bed.
He’s also helped with planning for the operating room, the sacred space and in-patient maternity.
The hospital will be redeveloped in phases, Fedor explained.
“They are building a whole new tower and wing between the hospital and the nurses residence and that’s going to be where all the in-patient beds are. We will build that wing, with surgical, maternity and medical beds, and move everything over and then the old hospital will be redeveloped.”
Doctors’ offices will still be in the hospital, as well as ambulatory daycare services, and there are thoughts of moving the emergency department, he added.
“We are often 25 to 30 per cent over census. When we only have six to eight beds it makes it pretty difficult, plus there are privacy issues with the existing curtains and stuff like that.”
Fedor said the redevelopment plan also includes creating more space for medical residents and students.
“We realize if you teach and attract young people to learn here that’s how you are going to basically recruit here in the future.”
Some of the physicians have said they would prefer a brand new hospital at a different site, Fedor said.
“By the time we get to 2023 the cost will be probably be approaching $200 million and really if someone could just think outside the box and find a flatter site on the edge of town, then we could have better parking. During school hours we have traffic going every way and it’s an awkward place to drive into.”
However, Fedor noted the direction from the government has been there is not enough money to build an entirely new hospital.
Cobb said city council continues to push for a helipad in the new design and a delegation from the region met with ministry of health representatives during the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September to discuss it.
“There were people there from Emergency Health Services B.C. too and they asked to be part of the planning for the helipad,” Cobb added.