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Windsor to invest $100 million in hospital renovation

WINDSOR, Ont. – Windsor Regional Hospital’s western campus has the go-ahead for a $100-million renovation, and the organization is hoping for a $50-million expansion at its Metropolitan campus.

“It’s a big, massive construction project,” CEO David Musyj (pictured) told the Windsor Star, speaking of the Western campus renovation, which is to begin in late spring or summer. He said the renovation will provide “desperately needed” construction jobs.

“There’s technically no big projects going on, let alone Windsor, anywhere right now in the province,” he said. “We’re talking about electricians, plumbers, carpenters, steelworkers, pipefitters.”

On top of short-term construction work, the western campus modernization will include a 65-bed, specialized mental health hospital that will add 200 full-time jobs.

It will also allow Windsor patients in a St. Thomas facility to return to the city. Musyj said it’s a good way to spend infrastructure dollars because the hospital will be better prepared to handle the health needs of the community in the long run. And more hospital construction could be on the way.

Moreover, Windsor Regional Hospital’s board agreed to prepare a plan for the Metropolitan campus with a focus on building an addition for teaching space for University of Windsor medical students and adding to the ER and diagnostic imaging departments.

Musyj said the hospital needs to add 30,000 square feet of space by 2010 when the first third-year medical students from the university will be training in the hospital.

Part of the addition will include sleeping quarters for students on call. “What we’re seeing already is students who probably didn’t really pay attention to Windsor, that Windsor existed, are now knowing Windsor’s on the map and are leaning towards practicing in Windsor when they graduate, which is fantastic.”

Since the medical student teaching area needs to be built, the board would also like to seek funding to double the size of the Met campus’s emergency department and the diagnostic imaging department.

The ER expects to see about 70,000 patients this year in space that was built to handle fewer than 50,000 patients, he said. An aging population and the 45,000 people in the Windsor-Essex area without a family doctor are “starting to catch up with the hospital,” he said.

The people who are coming into the emergency department now are very sick. The plan could be done in six months and will be presented to the Ministry of Health for funding. If the addition went ahead it would be on the Byng Road side of the Met campus.

Musyj credited local MPPs Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello with lobbying for the renovations at the Prince Road western campus.The Ministry of Health is paying for the construction but the hospital will have to raise about $10 million.