The new regional hospital in Courtenay is expected to be operating by the fall of 2017.
By that year, rough estimates indicate the North Island Hospitals Project will have created about 1,150 jobs in the Comox Valley, chief project officer Tom Sparrow said at the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting Thursday at Crown Isle.
Three proponents are bidding on the project: Arbutus Healthcare Partners, Plenary Health and Tandem Health Partners. The project will be awarded early next year. Construction will last about four years.
“These companies want to use local help,” Sparrow said.
Since 2003, he said the Vancouver Island Health Authority has planned to replace St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, as well as the Campbell River and District General Hospital, both of which are “getting tired.”
At 27,000 square metres, the state-of-the-art hospital that will sit next to North Island College will have about 70 per cent more space than St. Joe’s. It will contain 153 beds. “Every room will be substantially larger,” Sparrow said.
The emergency department, for instance, will be about 2.5 times larger than that at St. Joe’s.
The facility will expand services to meet population growth and aging, and establish selected new services for the North Island. It will also include labour-delivery-recovery-post partum rooms for maternity care, and provide a formal affiliation with the University of British Columbia medical school.
The percentage increase will be about the same at Campbell River, which will be replaced with a 95-bed facility. It will maintain the same slate of services, along with an aboriginal maternal health component and UBC academic teaching space.
Total cost of the project is $600 million: $334 million for the Comox Valley hospital and $266 million for Campbell River. The Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District will contribute 40 per cent to the overall project, approximately $240 million.
Sparrow’s presentation also highlighted details of an ‘industry speed dating event’ collaboration between the Comox Valley and Campbell River Chambers of Commerce, Vancouver Island Construction Association, Vancouver Island Economic Alliance and the project. Next month, the events will provide opportunities for businesses to meet with each of the three consortiums bidding on the hospitals project.
Sparrow expects the entire project will create about 2,000 direct jobs and upwards of 1,400 indirect jobs in both communities.