Growing and expanding to serve patients better
“Our focus is on prevention and management of chronic illness and complex disease and disability. We are building this new hospital to provide the specialized facilities that we need here, and built as a model for similar hospitals,” says Bridgepoint Health President and CEO Marian Walsh.
An integrated network of health facilities and services which includes Bridgepoint Hospital, the Bridgepoint Healthcare Network focuses exclusively on “changing the world” in its new hospital initiative, creating a “campus of care” to integrate patient care, research and teaching.
“We are building research facilities to provide more insight and more treatment and intervention to study what will allow people to live well. We are building better capacity, larger facilities for clinics and health programming for family health care so that we can work with people in the community much earlier on in their health care journey,” adds Walsh. “We are really focusing on the new frontier in health care.”
Building a new hospital and a new campus at a very prominent site that overlooks Toronto, the idea focuses on a clinical care research and academic standpoint, while planning other services in the future, such as community programs, health and wellness programs, potentially supportive housing and diagnostic imaging, and a whole range of supportive services for people living with underlining major illnesses.
Growth and expansion plans
“The whole premise of Bridgepoint is that today the major success of modern medicine is that people are living with, instead of dying with, practically everything. Not only are people surviving, but they are living well. We can diagnose and treat people to intervene so that people are living with them, but the fact is: we haven’t cured them,” Walsh comments.
According to Walsh, one of two Canadians lives with an underlying major illness. Operating 472 inpatient beds and an extensive array of ambulatory programs and clinics, Bridgepoint Hospital focuses on providing medical care and rehabilitation for people who have complex, chronic illnesses and those in need of rehabilitation.
Project timeline and recession impact
“Our project has not been impacted at all by the change in economic condition. We were in the bidding process when the financial markets started to fall away into a downward spiral and, in a way, the project may have benefited from that, because the developers that lined up were very interested, so we had a lot of competitive bidding,” Walsh explains.
“Their interest was even more galvanized in public infrastructure projects because they are more secure, particularly through an economic downturn. Where there were some challenges was on the financing side. The financial markets changed significantly, and the whole relationship with financial institutions to debt, so there were a few more challenges to provide 30-year financing for projects like this and the interest rates were very volatile.”
Funding the new hospital, creating jobs
In terms of cost of construction and building equipment and services, the project will cost about $650 million, with the private sector partnering with Bridgepoint Health and the Government of Ontario providing the financing over a 30-year project agreement. According to Walsh, “once you add in financing, the project totals about $1.2 billion, so it will infuse the economy.”
“There is a ton of economic spinoff from building a project like this. Because it is a public hospital, it has been financed largely by the Government of Ontario, but obviously the hospital itself is also expected to make a contribution of about $79 million, raised here and through philanthropists,” says Walsh. “In terms of job creation, there are a lot ways of looking at the impact. The direct business impact is the construction, facility development and equipment acquisition.
“From planning through completion of construction, there will be an estimated 2,000 people who will be employed [on this project], everyone from architects and engineers to those that are actually working on the site doing the construction.”
Community enhancement
The project is seen as more than opportunity to build “just a hospital”, leveraging the opportunity to benefit the community.
“We believe public hospitals are some of the most expensive buildings in the world because they are very complex with their engineering and the infrastructure, so we believe the building should make a contribution to civic infrastructure and being an example of healthy buildings for the future,” says Walsh.
“When people are building major infrastructure projects in the last 30 to 40 years, we have really focused on functionality. The more appropriate thing is we haven’t been investing much in new public health care infrastructure in Canada. I think for those of us who are engaging in those projects, we have an obligation and a civic duty beyond building hospitals. We need to look at making these buildings not just functional, but really efficient and enable patients to experience cure, but also inspire health and wellness.”