Mother Nature has been a hindrance for workers building a new, state-of-the-art emergency department beside Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
Jim Morris, senior project manager with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, said snow and heavy rain have slowed work on the the $36.9-million facility, but it is still on schedule for completion in September 2012.
"We only missed one full day and that was really just the outside work," he said. "We're pretty happy with how things are going. We just need the weather to improve so we can get the rest of this concrete poured."
Excavation work began in August after the new emergency parking lot was finished – the former parking lot is where the new ER is being built.
Workers are pouring concrete for the basement floor, the basement walls and support columns. The basement floor is 30 per cent done and next is the first floor – a suspended slab of concrete – as well as all of the first floor structural steel.
The 3,000-square-foot ER will be on the first floor and the basement will be used for storage, with some space reserved for future development.
While it is still a hole in the ground at this point, Morris expects to get the basement and first floor in place in June or July, with the roof following shortly after that.
"This is the critical phase, getting up out of the ground," he said.
The ER project is divided into five phases: developing the new parking lot; digging the hole and building the new facility; creating a temporary connection between the old and new buildings; moving the ER into the new space and working on permanent connections between the two buildings; and making the area that is currently the ambulance turnaround into parking for renal dialysis patients.
The new ER will boost the number of treatment rooms from 24 to 41 and also include a dedicated X-ray room and an expanded mental health services component.
It is triple the size of the old department, which was designed to serve about 15,000 patients per year, but served almost 54,000 last year.