Three years after it began, construction work at Peace Arch Hospital is complete.
B.C.’s Ministry of Health announced the milestone in a news release, issued Friday (Feb. 4).
The upgrades, which totalled just over $91 million – more than $70 million over the original estimate – got underway in late January 2019.
Improvements included an expansion of the hospital’s emergency department – one that slightly more than doubled the number of treatment spaces from 24 to 50 and set aside dedicated space for children and families.
A new surgical suite above the emergency department, meanwhile, houses two operating rooms, bringing the hospital from three to five. In addition, the medical device reprocessing department has been expanded and moved closer to the surgical suite.
“Redeveloping these areas will improve overall efficiency by providing direct links between emergency, surgery and the sterilization of surgical tools,” notes the release.
The medical device reprocessing department was fully operational on Jan. 8, 2022, and the new surgical suite on Jan. 10. The newly renovated and expanded emergency department opened to patients on Jan. 11.
At the start of construction, the total cost of the project was set at $83.7 million.
First announced in May 2015, the ER expansion was initially expected to cost $20 million. The price tag climbed to $68.2 million by April 2017, as the scope of the work expanded to include the addition of the new surgical suite.
In late 2020, government approved a project cost increase of $7.37 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to include three anterooms in the project.
The province, through Fraser Health, is providing $52.55 million and the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation is providing $38.5 million, for an updated total project cost of $91.05 million.
“The redevelopment of Peace Arch Hospital’s emergency and surgical departments is critically needed and incredibly exciting for our community and made possible by the generosity of our donors, many of whom gave again and again to make this dream a reality,” said PAHF Executive Director Stephanie Beck.
“The community built this hospital in 1954, and that spirit of philanthropy and caring still exists today.”
Meanwhile, renovations continue to parts of the former emergency department to accommodate a new dedicated mental health and substance-use unit that is expected to be complete this summer.
“Providing mental health and substance-use care is a vital part of our health system, Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions, stated in the release.
“With dedicated space for people experiencing mental health emergencies, the expansions at Peace Arch Hospital will provide care people urgently need in White Rock and South Surrey.”
Peace Arch Hospital has 171 beds, serving a region of more than 109,000 people in South Surrey and White Rock. By 2030, that number is expected to exceed 130,000.
“The White Rock and South Surrey area is growing fast and, with that, comes more demand for health-care services,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“Our government recognized this and took fast action to help people in this region by moving forward with a bigger emergency department and surgical suite at Peace Arch Hospital.”
Services offered at White Rock’s hospital include emergency surgery, critical care, maternity, inpatient mental-health and substance-use services, inpatient rehabilitation services, laboratory services, outpatient services, ambulatory care and a hospice.
In mid-January, Fraser Health Authority announced plans to close the PAH maternity ward for three months due to a gap in pediatric coverage,
The announcement led to an immediate backlash from the community, including a protest rally held outside the hospital on Jan. 20.
That afternoon, Fraser Health held a media call reversing its decision, assuring the public that “expectant individuals who have pre-existing plans to deliver their babies at the hospital will be able to see those plans though with only sporadic single-day diversions and only when necessary.”
During the call, Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee also confirmed a long-term commitment to pediatric care at the hospital.