British Columbia

Behind the move: Two new hospitals come to Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is about to get two new hospitals that, after years of construction, are scheduled to begin receiving patients this weekend.

Campbell River hospital opens Sunday, Comox Valley site ready next month

The new Campbell River hospital is built on the same site as the old hospital at 375 2nd Avenue. (North Island Hospital Project)

After years of construction, Vancouver Island is about to get two new hospitals. One is scheduled to begin receiving patients this weekend.

The new 95-bed North Island Hospital Campbell River and District opened Sunday morning and its emergency department was accessible at 5:30 a.m. The Comox Valley hospital site is slated to open Oct.1.

Dermot Kelly, a regional executive director for Vancouver Island Health Authority, described the challenges of moving patients, staff and technology between hospital sites.

"There's a tremendous amount of work," Kelly told CBC host of All Points West Jason D'Souza. "Part of the move day, you're almost [operating] two hospitals at the same time."

He said there will be teams at both locations on Sunday's move-in day and an emergency operations centre ready to respond to any incidents quickly. 

'Tremendous amount of work'

Much of the administration, biomedical engineering and other clinical areas moved earlier in the week, Kelly said. The rest of the staff and in-patients will move throughout Sunday.

"I've oversimplified what has been a tremendous amount of work over the past eight months to ensure that we are focusing on a really incredible patient experience, making sure that we don't impact access and, above all, that we are doing this in the most safe manner possible," Kelly said.

Island Health is not doing the move alone; they have partnered with Health Care Relocations and B.C. Ambulance Service for the move and with other acute care facilities in the area for additional support as needed.

The new Campbell River hospital is built on the same site as the old hospital since Island Health already owned the property. The old hospital building will be removed as the new site opens.

Residents of Comox Valley who require medical care are told to go to St. Joseph's General Hospital until the new North Island Hospital Comox Valley site opens on Oct. 1.

With files from All Points West