Public gets first glimpse of new ER

NANAIMO: New $37 million emergency wing triples size of old emergency ward.

Dr. Drew Digney

Dr. Drew Digney

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s new emergency wing opened its doors to an official grand opening ceremony and tours Monday.

The $36.9-million project is a 3,082 square-metre expansion, tripling the size of the hospital’s old emergency department to meet the demands of a population on central Vancouver Island that is growing and aging.

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s new emergency wing opened its doors to an official grand opening ceremony and tours Monday.

The $36.9-million project is a 3,082 square-metre expansion, tripling the size of the hospital’s old emergency department to meet the demands of a population on central Vancouver Island that is growing and aging.

NRGH has the busiest emergency department on the Island. The new wing replaces an overworked and overcrowded emergency room – originally designed to handle 15,000 patients a year, but currently handles more than 57,000 patients annually – and includes psychiatric emergency services and a psychiatric intensive care unit.

Architectural and technical innovations include green building elements such as automated window shading, radiant panel heating and direct digital temperature control.

Natural lighting through windows, skylights and courtyards built into the structure saves energy, speeds healing and  provides a calming setting for patients and their families.

B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, who presided over the emergency wing’s opening, praised the facility and the province’s funding toward the project, but placed equal importance on the people who will staff the department, many of who were inside practising emergency scenarios and taking part in orientation sessions as she spoke.

“We think of doctors and nurses, but there are so many other people involved in the care of patients, each and every one of them bringing their skill and their compassion,” MacDiarmid said.

“When you come through the doors of this hospital into the emergency department and you’re at your most vulnerable and your needs are greatest, to know that you can look into the eyes of the people who work here and you can see they care about you, they’re compassionate and they’re skilled, that they are coming in and they know what they’re doing. It gives somebody confidence and helps them to feel better.”

Opening ceremonies were followed by tours for dignitaries, local and provincial government representatives, staff from other hospital departments, the public and media throughout the day.

Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation has raised $3 million of a $4-million pledge to purchase life-saving equipment for the new wing.

Construction costs were covered by a $19.7-million contribution from the provincial government, plus $13.2 million from the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The new emergency wing is scheduled to start receiving patients Oct. 1.

NRGH has the busiest emergency department on the Island. The new wing replaces an overworked and overcrowded emergency room – originally designed to handle 15,000 patients a year, but currently handles more than 57,000 patients annually – and includes psychiatric emergency services and a psychiatric intensive care unit.

Architectural and technical innovations include green building elements such as automated window shading, radiant panel heating and direct digital temperature control. Natural lighting  through windows, skylights and courtyards built into the structure saves energy, speeds healing and  provides a calming setting for patients and their families.

B.C. Health minister Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, who presided over the emergency wing’s opening, praised the facility and the province’s funding toward the project, but placed equal importance on the people who will staff the department, many of who were inside practising emergency scenarios and taking part in orientation sessions as she spoke.

“We think of doctors and nurses, but there are so many other people involved in the care of patients, each and every one of them bringing their skill and their compassion,” MacDiarmid said. “When you come through the doors of this hospital into the emergency department and you’re at your most vulnerable and your needs are greatest, to know that you can look into the eyes of the people who work here and you can see they care about you, they’re compassionate and they’re skilled, that they are coming in and they know what they’re doing. It gives somebody confidence and helps them to feel better.”

Opening ceremonies were followed by tours for dignitaries, local and provincial government representatives, staff from other hospital departments, the public and media throughout the day.

Nanaimo and District Hopsital Foundation has raised $3 million of a $4-million pledge to purchase lifesaving equipment for the new wing.

Construction costs were covered by a $19.7-million contribution from the provincial government, plus $13.2 million from the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The new emergency wing is scheduled to start receiving patients Oct. 1.

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