Demolition starts ahead of Misericordia expansion

The demolition and remediation phase of a long-promised expansion at the Misericordia Community Hospital is slated to begin Monday.

Space for six ambulance bays, emergency waiting and treatment areas and diagnostics services are all promised as part of the expansion project. The new emergency department is expected to see 60,000 patients a year, according to a Friday news release.

The price tag is set at $65-million for the new emergency department and another $20-million for other mechanical upgrades to the hospital.  

"Medicine has changed dramatically since the sixties when that building was built," Covenant Health CEO Patrick Dumelie said at a news conference Friday. "It'll allow us to have the most modern technology and the most efficient and highest quality care possible."

Codie McLachlan/CBC

Remediation work preparing the site for workers will be followed by demolition, expected to take four months altogether. The redevelopment project will create about 445 jobs during construction.

Minister of Infrastructure Prasad Panda said construction will begin this summer and continue until late 2022 before becoming operational in 2023. The new emergency department was first announced in the 2017 provincial budget, with construction set to begin in the spring of 2019.

The new emergency department will take the place of the chapel, west annex and already relocated Family Medicine Centre. The current emergency department will remain open during construction.

Based on numbers cited in 2018, Misericordia's existing emergency department served 51,000 visits per year in a space designed for 25,000.

The current emergency department has a history of flooding issues. In August 2018, a flooded toilet forced the department's temporary closure.

The hospital had a major flood in May 2013, when it had to cancel 46 elective surgeries and move 53 patients after a valve ruptured while a toilet was being repaired.

There were several smaller flooding incidents in 2014.