British Columbia

$1.3B Burnaby Hospital redevelopment announced

Burnaby Hospital's original construction dates back to the 1950s.

New facility will include 2 patient care towers, 400 new beds, expanded emergency room and cancer centre

Burnaby Hospital was originally constructed in the 1950s. The provincial government has announced a major reconstruction costing $1.3 billion. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The government plans to spend $1.3 billion to upgrade and redevelop Burnaby Hospital.

"It's been 40 years since the last upgrade to this facility and that's way too long," said Premier John Horgan.

Horgan said the completely upgraded and modernized facility would include two patient care towers, 400 new beds, a bigger emergency room and new cancer treatment centre.

The original Burnaby Hospital was built in the 1950s and has undergone upgrades and additions over the years. 

In 2012, a damning report by a committee put together by the Fraser Health Authority cited overcrowding, underfunding and serious problems around the hospital's aging electrical and plumbing infrastructure.

The report also noted the high rate of C. difficile bacterial infection within the patient population.

Burnaby Hospital currently has 285 beds and receives 70,000 visits annually.

Staffing concerns 

Christine Sorenson, president of the B.C. Nurses Union, says the announcement is welcome news but she expressed concerns about staffing. 

"We have 1,100 nurses that work at that facility now [and] with the increased numbers of beds, I anticipate you'll probably need around 2,000 nurses," Sorenson said. "Many of these units are specialty units requiring specialty education [and] nurses with advanced training." 

Sorenson said she hopes the government will also make a commitment to recruiting and retaining staff for the new facilities, especially because, she says, the province isn't graduating enough nurses.

"We're not graduating enough nurses in this province to actually replace the many of us that are about or able to retire," she said. "And in fact we're seeing many of these nurses not staying in nursing and our nurses today are burning out ... [and] working copious amounts of overtime."

Health Minister Adrian Dix said health care staffing is as much of a concern for his government as health care facilities. 

"We need new hospitals ... but we also need more nurses now and in the future. We need more care aides now and in the future," Dix said. "We need to deliver the services and we need to have the facilities to both recruit people into and also to give people hope in the health care system."

Work to be completed by 2027

Horgan and the NDP's 2017 campaign promises included replacing Burnaby Hospital.

Work is expected to begin in 2021 with the construction of a new, six storey tower that is expected to be complete in 2023.

The second tower is expected to break ground in 2024 with a completion date of 2027.

Burnaby is the third largest municipality in B.C. with over a quarter million residents.

 

With files from On The Coast

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