B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix speaks at Peace Arch Hospital Friday morning. (Nick Greenizan photo)

Construction starts on $83.7-million Peace Arch Hospital ER expansion

Cost of project, first announced in 2015, ‘significantly underestimated’

Work is finally underway on the long-awaited expansion to Peace Arch Hospital – but it’s costing more than initially anticipated.

Health Minister Adrian Dix was at the White Rock hospital Friday morning to announce that construction has started on the new, expanded emergency department, medical device reprocessing department and surgical suite.

A news release issued shortly after the announcement notes the prior plan for the project left unresolved questions about the province’s share of the funding.

As well, that the plans “significantly underestimated” the cost of the project.

First announced in May, 2015, it was initially expected to cost $20 million. The price tag climbed to $68.2 million in April 2017 – after the plan was revised to include a new surgical suite – and is now $83.7 million. It’s anticipated to be complete in late 2021, replacing the existing three operating rooms with five new ones, and redeveloping the medical device reprocessing department to be closer to the surgical suite.

READ MORE: $20 million expansion of Peace Arch Hospital celebrated

READ MORE: Peace Arch Hospital ER expansion plans expand

Of the nearly $84, $46.7 million is to be provided through the regional health authority, while the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation is to contribute $37 million.

At Friday’s event, Dix said that, despite the announcement in 2017 that the cost had increased, the previous BC Liberal government had no money in the budget for the project.

“That announcement was made, and when it was made, there were zero actual dollars (budgeted) at the time… There was $37 million from the foundation – that was real… but there was zero actual dollars,” he said.

“When I became minister of health in July of 2017… there was a new government and zero dollars in the bank. We discovered also that the project itself was going to cost more than the initial cost of $68 million.

“My reaction was that this was an essential project that was needed by the community… so I am proud to say that we have found the money to fund this project… and proud to announce… that construction is proceeding. We are on and moving ahead.”

Dix also said Friday that government’s investment in the project “means people will be able to access more surgeries, as well as quicker emergency care.”

The expanded emergency department will more than double the number of treatment spaces, to 50 from 24. It will include a dedicated space for children and families, as well as a mental-health and substance-use space.

The surgical suite is to be built above the expanded emergency area, boosting the number of surgeries that will be able to be performed at the hospital.

At the beginning of his prepared remarks Friday, Dix also dedicated the announcement to Paul Bennett, Peace Arch Hospital’s former operating room nurse department manager who was shot to death in June 2018 in what police later confirmed was a case of mistaken identity.

“Hospitals are the staff that work there and give their lives to helping other people,” Dix said. “We think of, in particular… the work that was done by someone who was lost to us but very, very much in your memory, and my memory and in everyone’s memory – Paul Bennett, who served here at this hospital.

“We pay our respects today to someone who contributed here and in this community.”

• Peace Arch Hospital opened in 1954 and has 171 beds. The hospital offers emergency surgery, critical care, maternity, inpatient mental-health and substance-use services, inpatient rehabilitation services, laboratory services, outpatient services, ambulatory care and a hospice.

• The emergency department has over 50,000 visits a year, which are expected to increase to 69,500 by 2030.

• The South Surrey-White Rock region has a population of approximately 109,000, as of 2016, and is expected to grow to approximately 131,000 by 2030.



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