Construction has started on the emergency department expansion at West Coast General Hospital.
A construction trailer has been situated on the helipad right outside the entrance to the emergency department, and construction workers can be seen working around the area.
Provincial health minister Adrian Dix announced the $6.25-million expansion to the emergency department in January.
The WCGH Foundation committed to raise $2 million toward the expansion, and has surpassed $830,000, spokesperson Chris Francey said.
Construction was slated to start in March 2021 with a completion date of summer 2022. The emergency department expansion had been put on hold in 2015 and again in 2018.
The redevelopment will include a 244 square-metre (2,626 square-foot) expansion, as well as improvements to the existing emergency department space. The project will add three new patient exam beds, extra space for patients awaiting tests and results, a private, safe seclusion room for patients in need of emergency mental health care, improvements to the triage and admitting area, and two separate entrances for ambulances and the general public.
Air ambulances will temporarily land at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport instead of the hospital’s helipad while construction is taking place. “Transport Canada regulations do not allow the helipad at West Coast General Hospital to operate during the emergency department redevelopment project,” according to Island Health.
The airport is 15 kilometres or 20 minutes by land away from WCGH and Island Health has “worked closely” with B.C. Emergency Health Services to ensure a process is in place to transport patients via ambulance.
The helipad will re-open once construction is complete.