Windsor mega-hospital blueprint unveiled to public

Windsor health-care officials pulled back the curtain Thursday on what the blueprint will be for hospital and health care in the region in the years ahead.

Mega-hospital comes with mega-planning

David Musyj, the president and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, says the proposed urgent care centre will give comprehensive primary care for patients. (CBC)

Windsor health-care officials pulled back the curtain Thursday on what the blueprint will be for hospital and health care in the region in the years ahead.

In short, the region intends to build a state-of-the-art hospital that will be a short drive from the homes of most Windsor and Essex County residents, should the government approve the plans put forward by local officials. Other health-care services will be provided in so-called satellite facilities, some of which are already well-known to the city.

Hospital officials revealed Thursday that Windsor's new mega-hospital will be built on land located at the southeast corner of County Road 42 and Concession Road 9. (CBC)

Prior to Thursday, word had leaked out that the proposed mega-hospital would be built near the Windsor airport, in the vicinity of County Road 42 and Concession Road 9.

Officials revealed Thursday that it will be built at the southeast corner of these two roads, placing the new hospital on the edge of both the county and the city.

While some may criticize the proposed mega-hospital's distance from central Windsor, officials say the location takes into account the reality of where people are living.

"We have to remember we are not London-Middlesex, where 90 per cent of the population lives in the city," said David Musyj, the president of Windsor Regional Hospital, when speaking to reporters on Thursday. "We have basically a 50-50 split."

The new mega-hospital will stand 10 storeys tall and have 500 beds. (Windsor Regional Hospital Handout)

In total, more than 20 sites were considered for the home of the new hospital.

Officials say the airport-area location is within a 10-minute drive from the majority of the proposed hospital's patients and staff. The site is also near an existing Transit Windsor route, as well as to major access roads and highways.

A 24-hectacre parcel of land was purchased for $6.1 million, in order to build the proposed hospital.

The land had been in the O'Keefe family for 100 years. Shawn O'Keefe says its an honour to have his family's land be used for a new hospital.

Big building, many services

The 1.6-million square foot, state-of-the-art building will stand 10 storeys tall. It is expected to have 500 beds when it opens.

Gary Switzer, the CEO of the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network, said the mega-hospital will serve as Windsor's acute care centre, where residents will go for complex regional trauma and emergency needs, as well as for regional cardiac and cancer care.

Gary Switzer, the CEO of the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network, is seen speaking to members of the media on Thursday about plans to build a mega-hospital near the Windsor airport. (CBC)

Critical care, neurosurgery, neo-natal intensive care, obstetrics and pediatrics will also be offered at the new hospital, along with in-patient medical and surgical units and acute specialty clinics.

"Windsor Regional Hospital will be responsible for all these services at the new hospital," said Switzer during a media event on Thursday in which the plans for the hospital and regional health-care were laid out.

Switzer said that Hotel Dieu-Grace Healthcare (HDGH) will continue to deliver non-acute care services. He said that organization will be responsible for many mental-health services, complex continuing care, dialysis, rehabilitation and some outpatient clinics.

HGDH will continue to deliver service from the Tayfour campus, which it took over in 2013.

HDGH will also take over Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette campus, which will be redeveloped to support outpatient mental-health services.

'A walk-in clinic on steroids'

The region will also see so-called satellites used to provide service to patients.

The main satellite will be a new, four-storey, urgent care facility that will be constructed at the site of the old Grace Hospital at University Avenue W. and Crawford Avenue. This site will be run by Windsor Regional Hospital.

It is not meant for patients with life-threatening issues and it will not accept patients arriving via ambulance — though patients will be able to be admitted to hospital from the urgent care centre.

"In effect, it's a walk-in clinic on steroids," said Musyj, when speaking with reporters at the west-end site of the old Grace Hospital, which is currently a vacant, grassy lot.

"What we have here is an urgent-care clinic staffed by emergency room physicians, emergency room nurses. If someone has a health-care issue in the downtown core, even outside, they can come here [and] be treated."

Musyj said that more than $130 million will be spent on the former Grace site alone, which is part of the estimated $2-billion budget for the broader plans that include the construction of the mega-hospital.

Once the mega-hospital is built, Windsor Regional Hospital's Met Campus on Tecumseh Road East, near Walker Road, will close and be emptied and razed.

The City of Windsor will then own the Met Campus property, giving Windsor Regional Hospital the former Grace Hospital site in exchange

The plans for the new mega-hospital and the related changes to health care in the region have been submitted to Ontario's Ministry of Health.

A long process

Musyj said that he and other officials have listened to what the public told them about what they want to see delivered. That included attending more than two dozen community-engagement events.

Thanking those that participated in the process to date, he acknowledged that it will be hard to please everyone.

"We know it's impossible to make everybody happy and we've stated that over and over again, but I can tell you I'm sure darn proud of the work that each and every one of you have done," he said.

Beyond the public outreach, there were also the hundreds of decisions that had to be made before a site was chosen for the new mega-hospital.

"That's a lot of decisions, trust me, and it takes a lot of time," said Bob Renaud, the chair of the Windsor Regional Hospital board, who was also a member of the site selection subcommittee for the new hospital.

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