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BC approves new ED for Victoria General Hospital

VICTORIA – The government of British Columbia has given the green light for a new, $18.8-million state-of-the-art emergency department at Victoria General Hospital, to benefit the growing population of south Vancouver Island.

“A new, modern emergency department for Victoria General Hospital will triple the size of the current facility and will provide state-of-the-art emergency, trauma and pediatric care to patients on Vancouver Island,” said Health Minister George Abbott. “The new emergency department will have more patient treatment spaces, offer a more patient-centred lay-out and greater privacy, and provide a better working environment for physicians and staff.”

The current emergency department at Victoria General Hospital was built almost 25 years ago to accommodate 10,000 visits per year. Last year, the emergency department had 36,000 visits.

This will be the first major investment in emergency facilities at the hospital since it was built in 1983. “A new emergency department for Victoria General builds on the expansion plans for health facilities in south Vancouver Island, including 500-bed capacity at the new Royal Jubilee Hospital,” said Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong. “Because of the sustained, strong economic growth in British Columbia, we are able to continue making these record levels of investment in public healthcare.”

“The new emergency department will better serve our growing population, including specialized areas for children,” said Saanich North and the Islands MLA Murray Coell. “We are building a new emergency department to ensure future population growth can be accommodated in this new facility.”

The local population has grown by almost 30 percent in the last 20 years to around 364,000 and is expected to grow another 15 percent in the next 20 years. The project is jointly funded by the government of British Columbia and the Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD).

Healthcare capital projects of this nature are traditionally funded according to a 60/40 cost-sharing formula between the Province and the CRHD; the Province is funding $11.288 million and the CRHD $7.52 million. The Victoria Hospitals Foundation has also committed to support new equipment in the emergency department.

“This redevelopment will provide much-needed services to residents of the Capital Region,” said Chris Clement, chair of the Capital Regional Hospital District. “The CRHD is pleased to contribute $7.52 million as a funding partner in this important project, which will have a significant impact on the delivery of emergency services to residents in our region.

“A new, larger and modern emergency department will provide better care to patients, reduce the spread of infections and improve the work environment for physicians and staff,” said Dr. StephenWheeler, director of emergency services and trauma for the Vancouver Island Health Authority. “The new facility will strengthen Victoria General Hospital’s role as the designated trauma centre on Vancouver Island and as the leader in pediatric care for VIHA residents.”

Wheeler explained that the new emergency department will double the emergency’s trauma care capacity, and allow more room for specialized trauma equipment and staff. “Right now, we have to place our trauma beds at an angle in the treatment area to make room for the equipment and staff,” said Dr. Wheeler. “When several staff and equipment are in the room working flat out to save a life, there is barely enough room to move around. The two new trauma bays in the new emergency department are purpose-designed with sufficient space and permanently installed equipment.”

The new emergency department has also been designed with pediatric patients in mind, and in fact will have a ‘mini-pediatric emergency department’ within the main department.

“Pediatric emergency services require specialized equipment and staff,” said Dr. Wheeler. “The new emergency will have four pediatric stretchers, designated pediatric nurses who will work with the regular emergency department staff, and a separate pediatric waiting area and isolation room.”

Waiting areas in the new unit will have a patient-friendly design that will allow for separation of the various client groups, including pediatric clients, and women who may have been a victim of asexual assault and are waiting for follow up care.

“The new emergency department is wonderful news for VIHA and the patients we serve,” said Jac Kreut, VIHA board chair. “It will help improve patient flow through the whole hospital and help VIHA achieve our goals to providing timely, accessible, high-quality care.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2008 with the new facility expected to be completed by the end of 2009.