Work is scheduled to begin this summer on upgrades and renovations to Quesnel’s G.R. Baker Hospital.(Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Multi-million dollar project to breathe new life into G.R. Baker Hospital

Work is set to start in August

If all goes as planned, work is scheduled to begin this summer on multi-million dollar upgrades and renovations at Quesnel’s G.R. Baker Hospital.

Northern Health provided an update to the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District during its monthly meeting on Friday, May 29.

CCRHD chair Bob Simpson said G.R. Baker Hospital’s major projects, which include a new emergency room and intensive care unit, a major kitchen renovation and a sterile compound room, are slated to go out to tender in the near future with the hope of having shovels in the ground by August of 2020.

“We’re still proceeding and still hitting our timelines, and the COVID-19 situation is not interfering with those timelines,” Simpson said.

Mike Hoefer, regional director with Northern Health, said both the ER/ICU upgrade and the kitchen replacement are direly needed.

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“All the equipment and the space is in very poor shape in the existing kitchen so this will replace all the equipment and hospital food production capacities in the new kitchen, and basically allows us to produce the food in the hospital in a functional way, in a modern way,” Hoefer said.

Simpson noted the kitchen — currently with a price range of $8.2 million with $3.3 million coming from the CCRHD — will be aligned with the CRD’s agriculture innovation initiative in order to utilize locally-grown food.

“We’re going to be in a really good position of the sourcing of the raw materials, as well as the sourced materials, to prepare the food right on site,” Simpson said.

“The ER/ICU, though, is the biggie.”

G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital has been serving the Quesnel area for more than 60 years, and the current floor plan of the hospital was designed in 1986, according to a news release from the provincial government, which notes it is small and out of date, with no private rooms or ceiling lifts to help health care workers move patients.

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Once ICU and the emergency department expansion is complete, the emergency department and ICU will be approximately three times larger and will share the same space. The emergency department will include a triage area, two examination rooms, a trauma and resuscitation room, an isolation and examination treatment room and psychiatric observation room. The new ICU will have five treatment rooms, up from the current four, as well as a private family waiting area.

Simpson said seeing the project go to tender, then hopefully beginning the work this summer, is exciting for the community.

“If we’ve got shovels in the ground in August for a project like that it gives people a real sense of growth in the community and that growth is going to continue,” he said.

The cost of the ER/ICU project is $27 million, and this will be cost-shared between the provincial government through Northern Health and Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District.

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