'Poor co-ordination' blamed for 20-month construction delay at Cambridge Memorial Hospital

The fifth delay this year, in a series of delays, means the hospital won't take possession of the new acute care A-Wing until July 26.

Fifth delay this year means CMH can't provide care in new acute care A-wing until October 2018

The opening of Cambridge Memorial Hospital's new acute care A-Wing is 20-months behind schedule. (Maeve Doyle/CBC)

Cambridge Memorial Hospital is now looking at opening their acute care area in October, thanks to a series of construction delays.

The hospital is hoping to open a new wing of the hospital but has at least five delays this year alone. The newly constructed wing was originally scheduled to open in November 2016.

On May 30, the hospital's Board of Directors was told there would be another delay. The hospital is now scheduled to get possession of the new 240,000-square-foot wing in late July.  

Add to that another eight weeks to train staff, install equipment, hold a public open house as well as vacate the B-wing, and the hospital won't be able to provide care in the new building until early October, according to CMHS spokesperson Stephan Beckhoff.

 Another hospital official said the 20-month delay is a contractor problem.

"The delays are, really, poor co-ordination of the work by the contractor in ensuring that they have all their trades on site, and the right trades on site at the right time," said James Hildebrand, director of capital redevelopment at CMH. "It's just really poor co-ordination along the entire project."

The hospital is also renovating an existing 150,000-square-foot wing. The delay in opening the new wing has meant they haven't been able to vacate the old wing, which is still waiting to be renovated. 

"Although we are disappointed with the delay, we try to support in whatever way we can to ensure that the contractor has everything that they need to do to get the job done," said Hildebrand. "But, at the end of the day, it's in their hands to get the job done."  

Hospital concerned about next phase of construction

The redevelopment of the hospital has a fixed cost of $187 million because it's an Infrastructure Ontario alternative financing project.  Under the terms of the agreement, costs from contractor delays must be paid by the contractor Bondfield Construction.

But the hospital may face costs associated with the delays at the end of project, said Hildebrand.

"They may try and pass those costs down, but currently, we are not incurring any direct costs whatsoever," he said.

Bondfield Construction will also be the contractor for the next phase of the project — renovating the existing wing.

"We're concerned about it because the Phase 3 work is much more complex. It is inside an existing operating hospital, and there are a lot of sequences that require very, very careful co-ordination of work to ensure that we are doing things safely, and that the work is done successfully and quickly," Hildebrand said. "We've raised some concerns about that but we don't actually have the final say."

'We are frustrated with things'

"We are frustrated with things, that there have been delays," said Hildebrand. "But, even with the delays, things are still progressing, and we are getting closer."

It is unknown how the change in provincial government will impact the redevelopment project but Hildebrand said, "whichever government is in place, we will work with them."

Bondfield Construction did not respond to CBC's requests for comment.

Mayor Doug Craig says construction delays of a new wing at the Cambridge Memorial Hospital are 'not acceptable and our community deserves better.' (Maeve Doyle/CBC)