Manitoba

New $233M Women's Hospital to open in December after years of delays

It’s years late, but the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority got the keys this week to its new Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg Women’s Hospital.

State-of-the-art facility at HSC was originally supposed to be finished in 2014

The new Health Sciences Centre Women's Hospital will open in December after several years of delays. (Fern Detillieux/CBC)

It's years late, but the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority got the keys this week to its new Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg Women's Hospital.

Media was invited to tour the new facility at 665 William Ave. on Tuesday, but babies won't be delivered in the $233-million building until December, as several months of preparation still are needed before the facility is ready for patients.

Staff will now begin the process of moving equipment into the hospital and getting complicated technical and computer systems running.

The hospital was first announced in 2007 and a design was chosen in 2010. The health authority set a goal of completion in 2014, but the project was plagued by delays.

The completion date was adjusted to 2016 and then last year reset to fall 2019.

Problems with construction of the building's foundation in 2012 and a fire in a shared tunnel to the Health Sciences Centre in 2013 contributed to the time it's taken to complete the project.

Senior WRHA administrators say the move into the 388,550-square-foot facility will still take nine months to complete.

"We've got the right team, the right processes and the right plan in place to make sure we can openly safely on the first of December," said Ronan Seagrave, the interim chief operating officer at Health Sciences Centre.

Despite the years of delay to get to this point, taxpayers won't be on the hook for cost overruns, officials said.

"What's happened here is that yesterday HSC took possession of the building from the contractor (construction firm EllisDon), so all of the costs related to the budget for that period up until yesterday are the responsibility of the contractor," Seagrave told reporters.

The state-of-the-art facility cost $233 million and, despite delays, is on budget. (Fern Detillieux/CBC)

A subcontractor on the project, Dustrial Plastic and Steel, is suing both the WRHA and EllisDon for just over $1.8 million, for bills the company says weren't paid, but officials wouldn't address the legal issues.

"I can't comment on any matters that might be subject to proceedings going forward," Seagrave told reporters.

The new hospital is the largest capital health project ever undertaken in Manitoba.

Some of the new features include private in-patient rooms, sleeping areas for families and a 60-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that consolidates the HSC's existing facilities for moms and infants who require specialized care.

In 2016-17, more than 5,700 babies were delivered at the Women's Hospital.

Monika Warren, a director at the Children's Hospital, said the new NICU features technology that will improve patient care through new electronic monitoring and charting systems that update as soon as the data is entered.

"Currently we use a paper chart. We'll be starting to train the staff very soon on electronic charting. [We] hope to launch that in June, and then we will be the first site in Manitoba that will integrate the devices that monitor the patient with the electronic chart," Warren said.

Consultations have already begun to decide what will happen to the approximately 85,000 square feet being vacated.

It's years late, but the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority got the keys this week to its new Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg Women's Hospital. 1:50

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