The Government of British Columbia announced that people in the Cowichan region are one step closer to a new hospital as the diagnostic and treatment centre on site reaches structural completion.

“Improved access to health care for people in the Cowichan region is on the horizon. This project reflects our government’s commitment to strengthening health services across the province and will provide people in Cowichan greater access to the care they need in a state-of-the-art hospital that will serve the region for generations to come,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The vision for the new hospital is to create a welcoming place of healing and hope, with a focus on the highest quality care that is culturally safe and respectful.”

The Cowichan Hospital Redevelopment project is No. 54 on ReNew Canada’s 2024 Top100 Projects report.

The centre will house outpatient and diagnostic-care services, including an emergency department, medical imaging, ambulatory care, a pharmacy and cafeteria and will be linked to an inpatient tower through a community hall.

“North Cowichan is a growing community, and it’s exciting to see that structural completion of this building is complete,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan. “I know everyone in the region is looking forward to the new Cowichan hospital when it’s ready for patients, and I’m grateful to all of the community partners for their hard work on this important project.”

Following structural completion of the centre, work will continue on its interior, while structural work continues on the seven-storey inpatient tower and service centre. Construction of the 204-bed hospital is on track for completion in 2026, and is expected to be ready for patients in 2027.

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It will be the first fully electric hospital in B.C. It is being built to LEED Gold standards, featuring an 80 per cent reduction in operational greenhouse gas emissions compared to the current hospital.

“It’s truly inspiring to see how far we’ve come, and how close we are, to completing Cowichan’s new hospital,” said Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health. “In the three years leading up to opening day, we will continue to increase hospital capacity through Island Health’s Cowichan Health and Care Plan, allowing the dedicated teams at CDH to continue providing quality medical services to their patients. We look forward to providing care in a larger, more suitable facility with healing spaces and modern equipment.”

The hospital will be 56,448 square metres (607,601 square feet), more than three times larger than the current facility. The number of spaces in the emergency department will increase from 17 in the current hospital to 36. This includes two trauma bays, fast-track streaming, monitored care and a dedicated acute psychiatric zone.

There will be seven operating rooms, an increase of three, with one dedicated to C-sections, as well as increased CT scanning capacity and built-in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition, there are nine surgical procedure rooms, an increase of six rooms from the current hospital.

Culturally safe spaces will be part of the new hospital to accommodate traditional healing practices, cultural practices, traditional foods, a gathering space and an Indigenous health department. There will also be a room for family to stay overnight if they are visiting the emergency department and it becomes too late to get home to their community.

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The hospital will continue to be a training site for medical students and residents in the University of British Columbia Island medical program and other allied health professionals. There will be a rooftop helipad. Parking will remain free, with double the number of parking spots over the current facility.

Total budget for the project is nearly $1.5 billion, provided by the Province through Island Health, Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District and Cowichan District Hospital Foundation. The replacement project is being delivered by the Nuts’a’maat Alliance, a fully integrated team comprised of participants from Island Health, EllisDon, Parkin Architects, BC Infrastructure Benefits and Infrastructure.

Featured image: (Government of B.C.)

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