Cowichan gets concept plan go-ahead for new hospital

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The announcement that the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District can go ahead on a concept plan for the new hospital is welcome news. The timing is ideal, since we can benefit from watching the planning approach to the new hospitals in Campbell River and Comox. A few steps ahead of us, they are to be completed later this year.  Here’s a fly-through animation of the soon-to-be-completed hospital in the Comox Valley

The news doesn’t help those at overwhelmed emergency rooms during flu season right now. Island Health issued a rather desperate-sounding notice last week, sounding like a parent as they reminded people to wash their hands and wear sensible shoes, and go to a clinic instead of the ER.

Here’s the Island Health news release:

COWICHAN VALLEY – A new hospital for the Cowichan Valley is one step closer as the Ministry of Health has formally approved a request from Island Health and the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District (CVRHD) to proceed with developing a concept paper to replace the aging Cowichan District Hospital.

“A concept plan is the next step when determining the future of a hospital,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “The current facility has served the community well and has been home to health professionals providing high-quality care to patients in its current location since the 1960s.”

The concept paper will provide Island Health and the Ministry of Health with an opportunity to consider the need for the project, alternatives for addressing the need and an assessment of the capital and operating implications. It will be developed in a joint process involving the Ministry of Health. Once the concept paper is developed it will be submitted to the Ministry for approval. If approved, and once funding for the project has been confirmed, Island Health would then proceed to develop a detailed business case.

“Replacement of the Cowichan District Hospital is our highest major capital priority and this is an important step forward,” said Island Health Board Chair Don Hubbard. “Momentum for this project has been building steadily and, working closely with the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, I know we’ll be able to deliver a first-class hospital for this growing community.”

As part of the process to develop the concept paper Island Health will be exploring a range of potential service delivery options and then proposing a recommended option. Development of the concept paper will take about a year.

“The staff at Cowichan District Hospital have provided exceptional care to our community in a facility that is now undersized and antiquated,” said CVRD Board Chair Jon Lefebure. “The new hospital will provide staff with the resources to provide the much higher level of care that is possible with a modern design.”

In October 2016, the CVRHD finalized the purchase of three properties on Bell McKinnon Road. The new facility, if given the green light to proceed, would replace the 49-year-old hospital on Gibbins Road.

Before the project proceeds it will require approval from the Province. The CVRHD would be responsible for funding 40 per cent of the construction costs of the new hospital, with Island Health and the province covering the remaining 60 per cent.

The hospital district has set aside more than $27 million in a reserve fund for the project as of December 31, 2016. Funding for developing the concept plan could come from that.

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