Planning for a new, state-of-the-art hospital in Niagara Falls, Ont., that was first recommended eight years ago now appears to be on the front burner.
The project, to be built on a 50-acre parcel of property at the intersection of Montrose and Biggar roads, took an important step forward recently when it was listed in the latest P3 Market Update by Infrastructure Ontario as one of 32 projects which the province is committed to in the coming decade.
“We are very excited to have the South Niagara hospital confirmed by Infrastructure Ontario knowing how important it is to meet the health care needs of the residents of Niagara,” says Angela Zangari, executive vice president finance and operations at Niagara Health System (NHS) and executive lead on the project.
“The Infrastructure Ontario pre-procurement market update list gives us some strong timelines regarding implementation and construction of the project and also stresses the importance of the work that needs to be completed with the (Ontario) Ministry of Health prior to putting shovels in the ground.”
NHS has selected the Planning, Design and Conformance (PDC) team that will establish guidelines and performance requirements that contractors will have to meet when preparing designs for the hospital build.
“Engagement with the community will continue throughout the planning process in order to gather critical input on the new hospital’s look, feel and function,” notes Zangari. “This feedback will ensure the hospital is designed and built to fully support patient, family and staff wellness in all aspects of the care process.”
An RFP is expected to be released in fall 2021 and, if all goes according to plan, shovels could be in the ground by fall 2022. The build would take four years and be completed in 2026.
Being green, digital and LEED-certified are what should be expected when building a new hospital,
— Angela Zangari
Niagara Health System
Site studies are now being completed in preparation for the construction phase and a natural heritage assessment was completed on the property. Boreholes were dug as part of the site study which will provide insight into the water, gases and any underground storage of unwanted substances on the property.
Zangari says that every step taken to plan for the hospital means Niagara Health is closer to better serving the residents of Niagara.
“The project has reached significant milestones over the past six months and we are working very closely with the Ministry of Health and Infrastructure Ontario, and the feedback from them is positive. We also continue to work closely with our community and hospital staff to implement the project.”
Zangari says Niagara Health is extremely fortunate to be able to plan for such a significant investment in health care for the region.
“The South Niagara hospital will be an important part of a connected health care system that will improve the patient and caregiver experience, enhance services, reduce wait times and introduce new ways to provide care across Niagara. Niagara Health recognizes the need for greater access to health care.”
The hospital will be the first health care facility in Canada to achieve WELL certification. NHS has registered the hospital with the International WELL Building Institute to work towards becoming WELL v2 certified.
WELL certification is based on 10 concepts and each is meant to improve and influence building design and operations to maximize the positive impacts on occupants’ body systems and therefore improve health. It is a scientifically developed tool recognized throughout the architectural and building communities.
Zangari says NHS is very proud to take on the endeavour to lead the way in designing Canada’s first WELL-certified health care facility and has completed eight design reports to date as part of the planning as well as had numerous engagement sessions.
There was an underlining theme throughout the reports and engagement that emphasized the desire for the design of the project to represent well-being, community and sustainability, she says.
“We believe that being green, digital and LEED-certified are what should be expected when building a new hospital. We want to differentiate our project from others and build a hospital reflective of Niagara and its needs.”
Zangari says WELL certification will enable NHS to further improve the patient and caregiver experience at the hospital.
“Niagara Health has prioritized recruiting and retaining top talent by creating a culture that is committed to fostering a productive, safe and comfortable work environment where staff and physicians can learn and grow. To maintain high employee satisfaction, it is important to create a healthy, vibrant environment where people can perform at their best.”
The hospital will also embrace technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform and improve the experience patients and the public have at the hospital, Zangari says.