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Construction getting underway on new ICU at Nanaimo hospital

$41.6-million project expected to open in 2023
Construction on a new ICU at NRGH got underway with a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday. Those putting shovels in the ground included Janice Perrino, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation CEO; Gary Manson, Snuneymuxw First Nation elder; Ian Thorpe, Nanaimo Regional Hospital District chairman; Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo MLA; Dr. Ben Williams, Island Health chief medical executive; and Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/Island Health photo)

Shovels are now in the ground as construction has started on Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s new intensive care unit.

The $41.57-million project, which will be cost shared between the province, the Nanaimo Regional Hospital District and the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation, was announced in 2018 and at that time, was scheduled to open in 2021. The new ICU is now slated to open in early 2023, according to a press release Tuesday from B.C.’s Ministry of Health.

Capacity will increase from 10 beds to 12 and the unit will be three times the size of NRGH’s existing ICU.

“It’s state of the art,” said Dr. Ben Williams, chief medical executive with Island Health. “The rooms are much larger … this ICU is a much better and kinder place for patients and their families.”

The press release from the province noted that the unit will feature overhead patient lifts, a medication room, a family consult room, a staff break room and a rest area, and will include space for a high-acuity unit for critical-care patients who don’t need to be monitored as closely as the ones in the ICU.

“This past year has demonstrated how crucial it is to invest in and maintain a strong public health-care system,” said Adrian Dix, B.C. Minister of Health, in the release. “The need for a new ICU for the people of Nanaimo was clear, and I’m proud that our government responded with both a technological upgrade and an expansion in size.”

Janice Perrino, CEO of the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation, said in the release that the foundation is thrilled to see construction starting and said a $5-million goal for medical equipment has already reached the $4-million mark.

Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, said in the release that an improved ICU will benefit both patients and health-care workers.

“With ICU demand expected to increase in coming years due to a growing population, especially in older adults, this project is necessary for the well-being of our current and future residents,” Routley said.

The new ICU is being built south of NRGH’s emergency department.

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