New hospital announced for Cowichan Valley

The B.C. government says construction of a new Cowichan Valley hospital, triple the size of the current one, is expected to begin in 2021.

In February 2018, a concept plan for the new hospital was submitted to the Ministry of Health. It was approved last month.

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Premier John Horgan was in the Cowichan Valley on Friday to announce the new hospital, noting residents’ long wait for the new facility will soon be over: “The new hospital we’re announcing today will serve people in the valley for decades to come, meaning better health care in their own backyard.”

Horgan visited the area during the election campaign last year to solidify the NDP’s chances in the Cowichan Valley by promising to build a new hospital in Duncan as part of a plan to spend $10 billion over five years for new infrastructure and job-creation across the province.

The government now says the budget, scope and procurement method for the project have yet to be finalized. The business-plan stage will take approximately 12 to 18 months.

The planning for a replacement hospital is a collaborative effort among the government of B.C., Island Health, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, the municipalities of Duncan and North Cowichan, local First Nations and local stakeholder groups.

The existing Cowichan District Hospital was opened in 1967 and has 134 beds. Since then, the area’s population has more than doubled.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the hospital’s capacity issues have been frustrating for patients and health-care workers alike.

“We received a concept plan, and approved it within months, so work could get going as soon as possible, and people could have a new hospital,” Dix said in a statement.

Leah Hollins, chairwoman of Island Health’s board of directors, said the modern technology and advancements in the new hospital will better support patients and their families in the Cowichan Valley and help attract quality medical professionals.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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