The ribbon has been cut on the new Fort St. John Hospital. What began in 2005 as a review of the former Fort St. John Hospital and Residential Care Centre determined that, in order to best provide improved services, and without an extensive renovation of the former facility, a brand new facility would be constructed to meet these growing healthcare needs.
Three years later, in 2008, the Fort St. John Hospital project was formally announced, as well as its new residential care facility. Located on 40 acres (gifted to Northern Health from the City of Fort St. John), the project includes a 15,000 square metre acute care hospital that houses 55 acute care beds, an intensive care unit, a maternity ward, an expanded emergency room, and two state-of-the-art operating rooms.
The Fort St. John Hospital will also serve as a new teaching hospital in support of the medical program of the University of Northern British Columbia in an effort to meet the challenges of a medical worker shortage in the Northern British Columbia community.
Additionally, adjacent to the hospital is the new residential care centre, measuring 7,500 square metres and housing 124 beds, while its neighbouring location to the Fort St. John Hospital allows for expanded care opportunities.
Valued at an estimated $300 million, the Fort St. John Hospital Project was funded through a public private partnership (PPP) between Northern Health Authority and private partner ISL Health. The innovation and strength behind ISL Health has played an integral role in the delivery of Fort St. John’s state-of-the-art healthcare facility.
Project construction began in June 2009 and reached completion this summer. The facility’s construction phase also provided an economic boom for the local community, creating hundreds of local construction jobs and economic spinoffs. Estimates show that the project created 1,900 new direct and indirect job hours.
“One of our goals was to work within our budget and timeframe” Betty Morris, COO of Northern Health, told The Canadian Business Journal. “We knew what we had to spend and we worked really closely with our design-build joint venture. We have delivered a building that is on budget and on time. That was always the goal and we have done that.”
Intuitive Patient Care
What’s unique about the Fort St. John Hospital Project is its emphasis on flexibility. The building is modifiable in that it allows for potential future expansion to accommodate the local community and industry. Projections show that the local community will expand by 21 per cent by 2028, to about 84,000 citizens, not to mention its aging population. This level of flexibility allows Northern Health to contemplate potential expansions to its emergency department and birthing centres. The Fort St. John Hospital provides new and expanded services not available in its former facility.
“We needed a flexible building to lead us into this future,” Morris summarized. “Another guiding principle was that we would have a quiet hospital. For us that means different ways of communicating with each other. We also participated with designers to incorporate natural light to its fullest extent.
“We also wanted to create a facility that had intuitive way-finding, meaning that as you came into the hospital from one of the four entrances, you would be able to find your way quite easily and it would be apparent. We’ve paid a lot of attention to protection of privacy, and in doing that we incorporated some hallways that only staff and patients will travel in that are not open to public. We’ve created an environment that is friendly and conducive to easy access.”
The Fort St. John Hospital Project achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. To meet these objectives, the two new facilities have several sustainability measures in place, including heat harnessing for reuse, captured and reused energies, and collected rainwater for irrigation.
Serving a Community
The Fort St. John Hospital Project is the first replacement project of its size in Northern British Columbia, representing the provincial government’s commitment to a revitalized healthcare network, particularly across the northern and rural populations of British Columbia.
“Northern Health is a huge health authority. We are the upper two-thirds of British Columbia, delivering services for its vast geography,” Morris stated.
The Northern Health website summarized, “This project is an important investment for future generations in Fort St. John and the surrounding communities in the delivery of quality and sustainable healthcare services.
“The Peace River Regional District was also behind this project, and the regional district came up with 40 per cent of the capital. This was a facility that was needed in Northern British Columbia.”