Standing near where the new construction will take place, Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday (April 17) that the business plan for a new emergency department and intensive care unit (ICU) at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital has been approved.
“We all know that the emergency and ICU are outdated and the space is limited, and it makes it difficult to care for people,” said Horgan. “In the coming years, G.R. Baker will expect to see increased patient visits, we’re going to see more people coming to the region, more people accessing public health care, so I am absolutely delighted to announce the improvements to the emergency room and to the ICU are a go, they’ve been approved, and construction will begin late in 2019.”
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hospital was designed in 1986, according to a news release from the provincial government, which notes it is small and out of date, with no private rooms or ceiling lists to help health care workers move patients.
“The new ICU will provide health care workers with the space and the modern technology they need to deliver quality care for the people of the region,” said Horgan. “The new emergency unit will be approximately three times bigger than the current one.”
The provincial government received a business plan for these upgrades from Northern Health in November, and that plan was approved in March.
“What hospitals are, more than anything, are the people that work there,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix. “And while a lot of what they do, you can describe as jobs, of course they earn money, I think people who work in health care devote themselves in a way that goes far beyond a job. The commitment they give to people in the community goes far beyond any of that, so I think what we owe as leaders in the province, what we owe as ministers and as governments is to provide health care facilities that are consistent with the extraordinary commitment of health care workers.”
Once this 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.
Dr. Gavin Grapes, the chief of staff at G.R. Baker, told the crowd gathered in the parking lot near the helipad for the announcement that this expansion will “vastly improve” the hospital staff’s ability to deliver services.
“This new space will be modernized and will have more bays,” he said, adding that having the emergency room and ICU department beside each other will improve the flow.
Architect Peter Kallos, who is the director of development services for Northern Health, says the addition is roughly 1,500 square metres, and it will go straight north and east of the existing building.
Kallos says they plan to get drawings out to tender in June and July, award the tender in August and start construction in September, beginning with excavation work. They expect construction will be complete in the spring of 2021.
“We’re planning to move quickly,” he said.
The cost of this project is $27 million, and this will be cost-shared between the provincial government through Northern Health and Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District, according to the news release.
The provincial government and Northern Health Authority have worked collaboratively with the Tsilhqot’in National Government, Nazko First Nation and Lhtako Dene Nation in the planning process, recognizing the history and cultural significance of this area.
This is Dix’s second visit to Quesnel for a big announcement in recent months, as he was here in October to announce the new Urgent Primary Care Centre.