Days after doctors protest, B.C. breaks ground on second Surrey hospital – BC

Ground has been broken on a long-awaited and often-promised second hospital for the City of Surrey, B.C., with an expected completion date in 2029.

Premier David Eby said the start of construction on the new $2.88-billion hospital and cancer treatment centre is a much-needed health-care expansion in one of the province’s fastest growing communities.

“This will be the largest capital investment south of the Fraser in our province’s history,” Eby touted.

“It will add a second emergency room in the City of Surrey, a surgical and imaging department — it will have the latest in health-care technology.”

Click to play video: 'Rally for better health care in Surrey'

Rally for better health care in Surrey

The announcement comes amid tension in Surrey’s health-care scene. Over the weekend, hundreds of Surrey residents — led by physicians at the ailing Surrey Memorial Hospital — staged a rally over “decades of chronic underfunding.”

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“We can’t treat the three leading causes of death here in the south of the Fraser. We need acute care beds. We are decades behind,” said Dr. Randeep Gill, director of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation, on Saturday.

The protest followed letters from dozens of physicians at Surrey Memorial Hospital in the spring, warning of a resource crisis that, over time, has led to “unsafe conditions” and “poor outcomes” for patients.

Eby acknowledged the concerns of those physicians, saying he met with one of the Saturday protest organizers before the hospital announcement.

“I agree with Dr. Gill and everyone who showed up to that rally that Surrey needs fair treatment and our government is going to deliver for them,” he said.

The province has already promised an expansion of Surrey Memorial Hospital, but few details have been released. Surrey is also getting Western Canada’s first new medical school in a decade, Eby added.

Click to play video: 'Province defensive ahead of Surrey healthcare rally'

Province defensive ahead of Surrey healthcare rally

The new hospital is expected to open in 2030 with a child-care centre for staff, a measure aimed at supporting recruitment and retention. Its construction was initially slated for completion in 2027, but several factors, including labour availability, challenged the timeline, Eby said.

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It’s also one of the reasons the cost of the hospital ballooned from its initial price tag of $1.7 billion, he added, with the increased cost of goods being another.

The facility will have 168 beds, 55 emergency department treatment spaces, a surgical and perioperative suite with five operating rooms, a pharmacy, a full-service laboratory, and academic spaces. The cancer care centre will also have 54 chemotherapy treatment spaces, and a 50-room oncology ambulatory care unit.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the complex is designed to complement, and work in conjunction with, the Surrey Memorial Hospital. The second hospital will not have a maternity ward or cardiac catheterization lab, the latter of which was recently promised as an addition to Surrey Memorial.

Click to play video: 'Health minister meets with Surrey Memorial Hospital staff'

Health minister meets with Surrey Memorial Hospital staff

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke welcomed Tuesday’s ground-breaking after years of waiting, but said she’s disappointed the hospital won’t have a maternity ward.

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“We are in a huge challenge for maternity services at Surrey Memorial Hospital,” she said. “This will not meet the needs of everybody, and we heard that loud on the weekend … but you have to begin it and I’m really pleased we’re doing that.”

In May, dozens of physicians and midwives at Surrey Memorial wrote a letter claiming the resource crunch at their facility had resulted in one newborn death, “countless near misses,” as well as other “adverse outcomes” for patients.

Shortly afterward, the province announced 30 measures to address grievances in Surrey health care, after what Dix described as “years of neglect.” They included an expansion of spaces for renal care, more beds and staff in neonatal intensive care, a cardiac catheterization lab, interventional radiology, and a doubling of internal medicine beds.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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