BC government announces new hospital building for Richmond

Mar 29 2018, 6:26 pm

Richmond’s only hospital will receive a much-needed renewal and expansion, the BC provincial government announced today.

Premier John Horgan says his government will move forward with the plan to replace the original 1966-built, 231-bed tower at Richmond Hospital with a new patient care tower.

The concept of the replacement project has been approved by the BC Ministry of Health, and the project will now move forward to the business planning stage, which will take 12 to 18 months.

“We are working to meet the needs of a rapidly growing community by moving forward with our partners to fund this redevelopment project,” said Horgan in a statement.

“The new acute-care tower will modernize Richmond Hospital for the coming decades, and bring quality public health care to people who live and work here.”

The business plan will provide a more-detailed construction cost estimate and determine the final funding contributions by Vancouver Coastal Health, the Richmond Hospital Foundation (RHF), and the provincial government. To date, the RHF has fundraised $27 million of the $40 million it will commit towards the new tower, which will likely cost between $250 million to $400 million based on previous estimates.

After the business plan is approved, the project will transition to procurement and construction, but no timeline has been provided for when a new hospital building could be completed.

Early concepts indicate the tower could have eight storeys and a floor area of 321,000 sq. ft.

A very unsafe hospital

For years, there have been safety fears with the existing 1966-built 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.

With other hospitals seeing renewal and replacement, Richmond Hospital is now one of the region’s most unsafe major hospital facilities – alongside St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver.

It could potentially incur major structural damage or collapse during a relatively modest seismic event as the current tower only meets 17% of modern seismic standards.

The building, its equipment and infrastructure have been deemed 79% deficient and obsolete with failing systems.

A new seismically-sound, modern hospital with the latest medical equipment, facilities, and technologies would include more rooms to increase privacy and reduce the exposure to infections, which can be fatal to some patients.

Its current operating rooms are also too small – just half the size of modern standards – and cannot accommodate much of the advanced surgical equipment used in many of today’s procedures. The proposed tower calls for between eight to 10 new and larger state-of-the-art operating rooms.

To control the spread of infections, the current standard is 80% single-patient rooms, but Richmond Hospital has only 10% single-patient rooms, with most rooms now accommodating three to four patients.

It also lacks a state-of-the-art medical equipment sterilization facility, which is something a new tower would provide.

Hospital size has not kept up with growing population

When Richmond Hospital first opened its doors, the municipality had a population of only 50,000, but this has since grown to about 220,000. It is also the closest hospital to Vancouver International Airport, which is quickly growing into a major hub with 31 million passengers per year expected by 2022.

Changing demographics and continued population growth will place more pressure on the hospital, as Richmond’s population is expected to increase quickly to 252,000 by 2031 and 275,000 by 2041.

Additionally, according to RHF, 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 since the hospital opened, but the number of beds – from 132 to 223 beds – has not kept pace.

Other major hospital redevelopment projects planned or already in progress in the region include:

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