British Columbia·Situation Critical

Surrey residents call for more services for children at new hospital being built in Cloverdale

Shovels are expected to be in the ground for a hospital in Cloverdale next year, but some residents say pediatric services and a maternity ward are vital for the new facility as the community continues to grow with more young families.

The $1.72 billion Cloverdale hospital is expected to open in 2027

With two young children under two years old, Aaron and Tabitha Chan said a new hospital in Cloverdale with pediatric and maternity services would give them the peace of mind they need. (Belle Puri/CBC)

This story is part of Situation Critical, a series from CBC British Columbia reporting on the barriers people in this province face in accessing timely and appropriate health care.

Shovels are expected to be in the ground for a hospital in Cloverdale next year, but some residents in the area say pediatric services and a maternity ward are vital for the new facility as the community continues to grow with more young families.

Surrey's second hospital, after Surrey Memorial Hospital in Whalley, is expected to be built next to Kwantlen Polytechnic University on 180th Street in 2023 and be completed by 2027.

The current plan for the approximately $1.72 billion hospital is to have an emergency department, inpatient and outpatient beds, operating rooms, diagnostic services as well as a cancer centre.

"Having the ER is critical because there are so many people in the area that are underserved," said Scott Wheatley, the executive director of the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce.

"But taxpayers' money might be better spent if they were to look at the demographics of the area and build something a little bit more robust."

A sign is pictured on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, at the location of the Surrey hospital planned for Cloverdale, British Columbia. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

He said residents have been desperately wanting a hospital with a maternity ward, as the closest ones are in White Rock and Langely, which is still about 30 minutes away.

The population in Surrey's Cloverdale is expected to hit 120,000 by 2051, he said, and a new hospital without a maternity ward and a dedicated pediatric department for young families is not enough. 

"It's ridiculous to have to drive to other cities for services that should be within the borders of your own," said Wheatley.

WATCH | Chamber of Commerce makes a case for more children's services at new hospital:

Residents call for hospital in Cloverdale

2 months ago
Duration 0:24
Scott Wheatley, the executive director of the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, says pediatric services and a maternity ward are desperately needed as the population of young families grows in Surrey.

New hospital could give parents 'peace of mind'

When Aaron and Tabitha Chan heard that a new hospital was being built just a few minutes away from their Cloverdale home, they said they were excited to finally have emergency care for their two children, both under two years old.

"When it was initially announced, I thought, 'OK, this is great. These are services that we need, and it's long overdue,'" Aaron said, adding that it gave them "peace of mind" to know they wouldn't have to drive elsewhere for pediatric services.

But when the couple learned that the new hospital will not have pediatric and maternity services, they were "disappointed and frustrated."

Aaron and Tabitha says having a hospital with pediatric and maternity services close to home would give them peace of mind as they don't have to drive to other cities to access medical services for their children. (Shawn Foss/CBC)

"If I have a hospital that's not even five minutes away, that's wonderful. But it's a bit disappointing that if something is really wrong [with my children], I will go there and just have to wait to be transferred," said Tabitha.

She said in a community that's growing with families with young children, having a dedicated pediatric department should be one of the most important services provided at the Cloverdale hospital.

"In a new hospital, first and foremost, I would want services that if something goes wrong with my children, if they are very sick, that they'll be taken care of. That's my biggest focus," she said.

Fraser Health wants feedback

Last month Fraser Health launched an online survey and held information sessions as well as a series of online workshops for Surrey residents to provide feedback on the new Cloverdale hospital.

"I think they have been getting the feedback that what was proposed isn't what the community wants," Wheatley said, adding that the province and Fraser Health still have time to make changes and take into account what residents need in the future.

Fraser Health has also set up a dedicated email address for public feedback at nshbccc@fraserhealth.ca.

A stylized phrase reading 'SITUATION CRITICAL', made to read like a red heartbeat monitor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christina Jung is a digital reporter for CBC. Got a story idea? Email christina.jung@cbc.ca or tweet @CBC_Cjung

With files from Belle Puri

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