New hospital in Fort St. James is now a reality.
Premier Horgan announced that the community will have a new state-of-the-art Stuart Lake Hospital, following the province’s approval of the project business plan.
Horgan announced this news himself in the district’s Community Centre on Jan. 18, and got a standing ovation from the crowd.
“For more than 12 years, people in Fort St. James were promised a new hospital,” Horgan said, adding this project will give the community an economic boost, with hundreds of new construction jobs and good health care for people in the region.
The new hospital will be three times larger than the current facility, with twenty-seven beds, including 18-long term care beds. There will be an emergency department with two treatment rooms, a trauma bay and an ambulance bay.
A laboratory and diagnostic imaging will also be a part of facility.
The hospital will also include a primary care centre that will consolidate services currently being offered in Fort St. James to one location, reducing the distance patients and staff have to go for diagnostic imaging and lab services.
Horgan said approximately 450 direct jobs and 350 indirect jobs that will be created during construction.
“This community and region couldn’t ask for anymore. We are so pleased. We now know the new hospital is reality,” said Bev Playfair, mayor of Fort St. James.
Meanwhile, Chief of Staff of Stuart Lake Hospital, Peter Van Zyl said with this announcement, “hope has become reality.”
The estimated cost of the project is $116 million, which will be shared between the province through Northern Health, and the Stuart-Nechako Regional Hospital District, which will contribute $20 million.
With government approval of the business plan, the project will proceed to procurement. The hospital is targeted to be open for patients by 2024.
The new facility will be built on the same site as the existing one. Once complete, the existing hospital will be demolished to make way for parking.
The current care facility was opened in 1972 and is outdated in terms of space, functionality and technology, stated a Jan. 18 release by the ministry of health and northern health.
Discussions regarding the replacement of the hospital have been ongoing since 2008. In Sept. 2015, Northern Health submitted a concept plan to the ministry of health.
Then in 2018, Northern Health submitted a revised concept plan to the government in 2018, which was approved in Oct. 2018. The business plan finalizes details such as scope and budget.
“This investment announcement within our region is tremendous news for the community of Fort St. James and the surrounding rural and First Nation populations,” said Jerry Petersen, chair, Stuart-Nechako Regional Hospital District.