Hospital emergency department construction work begins

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Ground was officially broken on the $12.8-million emergency department expansion project at Lady Minto Hospital on Tuesday.

Lady Minto Hospital Foundation (LMHF) chair Dave Taylor told the group assembled for the occasion that if things had gone according to the original plan, they should have been attending an opening ceremony for the emergency department that day. After the signing of a memorandum of understanding governing the project between Island Health and the LMHF just over three years ago, “Everything was going along just fine for 11 months and then the pandemic hit and brought everything to a screeching halt for the better part of a year. So yes, we are anxious to get going.”

Capital costs are being shared by the LMHF, which has pledged $9.8 million, and the Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD), which will contribute $3 million.

“Everyone at the foundation feels overwhelming grateful for the support and the generosity of this community,” said Taylor. “It has been astounding. Thank you.”

MLA Adam Olsen also praised the foundation’s and community’s efforts in raising funds.

“It is a tribute to each and every one of you and to the entire Salt Spring Island community,” he said.

Olsen made it clear he was not happy with Island Health for not supporting the project with capital funds and said he would continue to pressure the provincial government to contribute.

Since the LMHF launched its fundraising campaign last June the estimated project cost has leapt from $10.4 million to $12.8 million, making the foundation’s commitment $9.8 million at this point.

LMHF capital campaign committee chair Carol Biely expressed her extreme appreciation to all involved, and especially the large donors who gave the campaign credibility right off the bat. Two million-dollar donations were made anonymously at the time, the Salt Spring Island Foundation contributed $100,000 and Country Grocer gave $50,000. Susan Bloom, who died in December, was one of the anonymous million-dollar donors whose contribution was acknowledged publicly by Biely at Tuesday’s event.

“It set us off on a wonderful start,” Biely said. “Then about 600 more people came diving in amazingly quickly and in no time at all we doubled our original goal because of all of you.”

Biely also recognized efforts of Salt Spring CRD director Gary Holman to get the $3-million CRHD contribution.

The emergency department redevelopment project includes a 420-square-metre (4,500-square-feet) building addition, linked to the existing hospital by a new front entry, that will increase the number of treatment rooms/bays from four to eight. Other improvements include an interview room, a medication area, dedicated check-in desk, nursing/team care station with sight lines to all assessment and treatment areas, ambulance bay, decontamination site, accessible washrooms, and expanded patient and family waiting area.

Island Health states that in support of a culturally safe space, engagements with local First Nations communities are expected to take place over the next year.

“Design elements of the project may incorporate Indigenous influences into work flow, signage, artwork, furniture, fixtures and equipment to ensure spaces are welcoming to everyone who seeks medical care.”

Construction manager is Western Medical Canada Inc. of Mill Bay. The architect is Vancouver-based Kirsten Reite Architecture.

The project is expected to be completed by fall of 2023.

Members of the public are reminded that changes to parking facilities are occurring due to the construction.

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