Island Health has entered the business plan step as the second step in a five-step process to replace Cowichan District Hospital.
The business plan will outline the service model, programs, a preliminary design and estimated cost for the proposed hospital.
Once drafted, the business plan will be submitted to the provincial government for approval to proceed to the next steps. We expect the business plan to be completed by the fall of 2019.
Detailed analysis has been undertaken on the proposed site at Bell McKinnon Road: to determine the following assets. First, that the size is right. The 20-acre property allows for flexibility and future expansion within the site.
Second, a welcoming space. Hospitals should be quiet sanctuaries of healing. The high-level vision is to create a welcoming environment for all who come to the site for care or work, with areas that promote healing and active living. When developing the design, special consideration will be given to incorporate the following elements.
Next, sunlight. Studies show natural light aids recovery for patients and contributes to a positive environment for visitors and staff, who spend large portions of their days at work. Maximizing sunlight also reduces reliance on fossil fuels and electricity to heat and illuminate the building, which reduces our carbon footprint.
And naturally, nature. Whether it’s a scenic view for inpatients, a healing garden with native plants, or the possibility of recreational opportunities for staff and visitors, access to nature is known to have positive effect on our minds and bodies. Landscape specialist, Jill Robertson, says “a sense of loveliness and natural beauty” on the site will promote a “space of healing and welcoming for patients, visitors and staff.”
And finally, ease of navigation. Accessibility and wayfinding were discussed in great detail. Participants explored the benefits of “stacking” certain service areas vertically to reduce travel time for patients and staff and allowing space between other areas. In many new hospitals, entrances to inpatient units are located away from the hustle and bustle of outpatient diagnostic and treatment services, allowing the inpatient experience to remain quiet and tranquil.
Parking, accessibility and alternate transportation options are being studied. Getting the right mix of parking, public and active transportation is a key consideration of the business plan for a new facility. The team is paying close attention to the many ways people may be travelling to and from the facility.
Business planning will consider wheelchair, bus, bicycle, helicopter, ambulance, automobile and pedestrian traffic, while also considering ways these may change over time. Gas powered cars of today may shift towards electric vehicles tomorrow, and later evolve into self-driving vehicles as technology changes.
Environmental responsibility is also a priority. All new publicly funded facilities in BC are being designed and constructed to meet a minimum of LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building standards. This includes sourcing responsible materials, finding renewable energy solutions and using prevailing winds, sunlight, water, rain and other climate patterns to our advantage to ensure the atmosphere indoors and outside our facilities contributes to healthy people and a healthy environment.
What are the next steps? Version 1.0 of the master site plan for a new CDH gets underway Feedback from this introductory session will be used to create a first draft of a master site plan. Project leads will continue to work alongside the province, the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, staff and physicians, local First Nation communities and patient partners in these early stages.
If the business plan is approved by government, the project will receive funding to proceed to the Procurement phase and then onto the more collaborative Design and Construction phase, where additional working groups will be formed to develop the official designs.
Patrick Hrushowy is a 45 year veteran of journalism, communications consulting, and business background, who just can’t stop writing.