Royal Columbian expansion gets green light

First phase to add 75 mental health beds to hospital, create region's first geriatric psychiatry unit

Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster is slated for a major three-phase redevelopment in the years ahead.

A long-promised expansion has been given the green light at Royal Columbian Hospital, the emergency trauma centre for the Fraser Health region.

The redevelopment’s $259-million first phase includes a 75-bed mental health and substance use facility to replace an existing 30-bed unit at the hospital in New Westminster.

It will also create the first dedicated geriatric psychiatry unit in Fraser Health, designed for elderly patients suffering from acute depression, anxiety or psychosis.

Also included is a new parkade and energy centre to power the hospital, as well as new outpatient clinics for mental health patients transitioning back to the community.

Construction is to begin with work this fall on a new helipad and phase one work will continue from 2016-2019.

Two subsequent phases would add new acute care beds, a new and larger emergency department, new operating suite and upgrades to existing spaces.

That work and its timeline is to be defined in a separate business plan in 2016.

More than $9 million for the first phase is coming from the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation.

According to Fraser Health statistics, 37 per cent of patients at Royal Columbian are trauma patients who arrive from across the Lower Mainland and B.C.

Royal Columbian is also a tertiary care centre for cardiology, cardiac surgery and neurosurgery.