Plans to expand Peace Arch Hospital’s emergency department have grown to include a new surgical suite, officials announced Wednesday.
It’s “a very big deal… a tremendous announcement,” Fraser Health president and CEO Michael Marchbank told Peace Arch News of plans that include more than doubling the number of ER treatment spaces to 50 from 24, and replacing three existing operating rooms with five new ones.
The news was shared in a morning event in the hospital’s cafeteria, where hospital staff, longtime donors, politicians and others learned the provincial government has committed $8.2 million to the project.
The lion’s share of the funding – $37 million – is to be raised by the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation; Fraser Health has committed $23 million.
Dr. Arno Smit, head of surgery at PAH for the past 3½ years, said the go-ahead “validates the efforts over the years by the Peace Arch Hospital community.
”When first announced in May 2015, the ER expansion was a $20-million project expected to break ground byt his summer, and the foundation’s contribution was to be $15 million.
It’s now expected to be complete in 2020, and plans are already underway by the foundation to raise another $22 million for the surgical suite, after earlier this year reaching the $15-million goal set for the ER.
The opportunity to improve surgical care was realized during planning for the emergency department, officials said.
“We held off that last one for a little bit, but only so it could become bigger,” Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg said.
Foundation board chair Siobhan Philips said the new operating rooms are “desperately needed.”
She described the overall plan as “a phenomenal capital project that will have a huge impact on our entire community for many years to come.”
Marchbank told PAN the existing ER will continue to operate throughout construction, and that what will happen to it after hasn’t been decided.
“First things first, we need to get the new ER and ORs,” he said following the announcement, noting it will be “avery positive experience for people needing patient care.”
Longtime donor Florence Wall – the wife of the late Art Wall, White Rock’s fifth mayor – said the improvements will serve the growing community well.
“I donate to the hospital on a regular basis and… as generous as I can,” she told PAN, noting she also volunteers at the information desk every Thursday.
“Everybody in the community is going to need this hospital.”