New Windsor hospital will cost more, officials say as planning takes next step

Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette Campus is shown in a file photo. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette Campus is shown in a file photo. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

Windsor's new acute care hospital will cost more than originally anticipated, hospital officials said Monday, as planning reaches a new milestone on the multi-billion-dollar project.

Hospital leadership announced the completion of Stage 1.3 of the hospital planning process Monday, having submitted more than 1,000 pages in plans to the Ministry of Health on Friday.

"It's a major planning milestone and it shows the collaboration extensively between the many partners within the hospital and the community," said David Musyj, CEO of the Windsor Regional Hospital.

This stage of plans include block diagrams and a campus plan for the hospital site. The hospital will include a cafeteria area with outdoor seating, a nine-storey in-patient tower and a five-storey diagnostic and treatment block, said Karen Riddell, the hospital's chief operating officer and chief nursing executive.

Katerina Georgieva/CBC
Katerina Georgieva/CBC

The plans also include an updated cost estimate, but Musyj said those numbers are not being made public right now.

"So it's very preliminary numbers. We are not privy to release them. We have to share them with the ministry first and the ministry has to review them," Musyj said, citing inflation and supply chain issues as reasons for the higher estimate.  "The number clearly is higher than what we estimated years ago with respect to that.

"If you're going through a tendering process, you don't want to give an exact detailed number at the advance of a tendering process because, guess what, that's going to be the result during the tendering process."

The Windsor Regional Hospital has previously indicated the cost of the hospital project could be around $2 billion.

Plans include space for future growth

Plans at this stage also include a "shelled-in space" for future hospital growth, Musyj said — space that is not currently operational, but could be ready quickly if needed, like if it were needed for a field hospital. Windsor regional Hospital had established a field hospital off site during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"During this pandemic, we had to go to the St. Clair SportsPlex to find a field hospital. We didn't have any additional physical space to the degree we needed it within the existing structures in order to support that," Musyj said. "I am hopefully confident that based upon what we went through during the pandemic, having this shelled-in space has clearly more credence now than maybe it did in 2019 if we were having these discussions with the ministry in 2019."

Musyj said the feedback process to complete this stage of planning included 13 town halls and feedback from 40 user groups, including hospital leadership, frontline staff, Indigenous groups and community members.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

Riddell said those groups were important in ensuring the accessibility and therapeutic environment of the hospital's plans, like making sure plans included the shortest possible routes to and from key care areas like to emergency room to the operating room, as well as the inclusion of open and green spaces to build a therapeutic environment.

From here, the Ministry of Health will review and approve the plans, with meetings beginning on those approvals as soon as next month, Musyj said. Then planning will move to Step 2, which will include more detailed schematic designs and the tendering process.

Musyj said the current timeline means the project will go through procurement and a request for quotes in early 2025, with the goal of having "shovels in the ground" by 2026.