New Richmond Hospital tower planned due to seismic issues

Jun 3 2016, 10:12 pm

A 50-year-old acute care building that houses much of the medical and patient care facilities of Richmond Hospital will be replaced in the near-future.

The provincial government announced on Thursday that it will be working with Vancouver Coastal Health and the Richmond Hospital Foundation to develop a plan to build a new replacement patient care tower.

There have been safety fears for years with the current tower after two studies performed in 2005 and 2011 deemed that the tower would not be able to withstand even a magnitude 5.0 earthquake. It could potentially incur major structural damage or collapse during a relatively modest seismic event.

When the hospital opened its doors in 1966, the municipality had a population of only 50,000, but this has since grown to 213,000. It is also the closest hospital to Vancouver International Airport, which is expected to see a record 21 million passengers this year.

Changing demographics and population growth will place more pressure on the hospital. Richmond’s population is expected to increase quickly to 252,000 by 2031 and 275,000 by 2041. Additionally, according to the foundation, Richmond has the fastest growing senior population in the province: The number of seniors living in the municipality will grow from 31,000 in 2014 to 45,000 in 2019. By 2030, the number of people over the age of 65 will reach 65,000.

The city’s population has quadrupled, but the number of beds at the hospital – from 132 beds to 223 beds – has not even doubled.

The foundation says it is willing to foot in $40 million towards the construction of the hospital, which is dependent on further provincial government funding. A new state-of-the-art hospital with the latest hospital equipment facilities and technologies would be designed with more private rooms to increase privacy and reduce exposure to infections.

Three other major hospital redevelopment projects are planned or already in progress in the Metro Vancouver region, including the relocation of St. Paul’s Hospital to a new $1.2 billion facility at the False Creek Flats, a $623 million expansion for Burnaby Hospital, and a new $259-million mental health and substance abuse centre at New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital, which is currently being built.