Planning for a new Windsor-Essex mega-hospital has picked up steam with the Ministry of Health (MOH) now reviewing a submission that details a campus plan, set of early block diagrams and a “functional program” document that sets out anticipated activity, staffing levels and more.
The submission was developed by planners from Agnew Peckham Healthcare Consultants and Stantec Architecture in consultation with 40 user groups representing all hospital programs and services.
The next step is for the MOH to provide feedback and work with Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) to ensure the final plan aligns with provincial expectations and standards for hospital care.
WRH is also continuing work in other areas to meet Infrastructure Ontario’s (IO) expedited timeline for the project that will see the tendering process begin in 2025 and the contract awarded in 2026.
“The project is a significant investment in local health care that will modernize hospital infrastructure and improve accessibility for patients in the region for generations to come,” WRH president and CEO David Musyj said in a written statement prepared for Daily Commercial News.
“The team at WRH is thrilled to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and is committed to working with hospital users including staff, professional staff, patients and community members at every step in the planning process.”
The facility, presently dubbed the New Windsor/Essex Acute Care Hospital will sit on a 60-acre site at the corner of County Road 42 and the 9th Concession in Sandwich South.
The hospital will replace two existing acute care campuses. IO indicated in its quarterly market update in March the estimated design and construction costs will be greater than $1 billion. The submission by WRH includes an updated cost estimate but the numbers are not being made public right now.
“The project will be priced through a rigorous competitive process to ensure value for the taxpayers of Ontario,” Musyj stated. “Discussing detailed cost estimates at this early stage could jeopardize the tendering process and our efforts to obtain the most favourable proposal from future bidders.”
In preparation for the development, WRH is beefing up the project team. Earlier this year, Brandon Bailey joined the team as vice-president of redevelopment. He’s worked on leadership teams for several recent hospital projects, including the South Niagara Hospital and Toronto Sick Kids capital project.
As the pace of planning increases, WRH is looking to strengthen and expand the project management team to ensure strong leadership in a variety of areas including planning and design, information, communication, automation and technology and equipment planning and asset management.
Throughout the process, WRH leadership and the project management team have spoken with a number of other health care organizations that have shared experiences and lessons learned from work on similar projects, including Niagara Health, Trillium Health Partners and the Ottawa Hospital.
Musyj said WRH will continue to work in collaboration with its consulting teams of experts, hospital user groups, IO and the Ministry of Health to “ensure the new hospital includes the latest design features to provide patients in Windsor-Essex with safe and modern care for generations to come.”
He said the hospital will replace the Ouellette and Metropolitan campuses which are undersized, well past their service life and unable to accommodate current patient volumes or future service needs.
“The current inpatient units and emergency departments fall well below current standards which results in smaller patient rooms, cramped hallways and limited capacity for storage,” he noted.
In 2012, a task force formed to examine the need for a new hospital recommended moving forward immediately with plans for a new, single-site, acute care hospital.
The new venue will have an emergency department, surgical services, ambulatory clinics, cardiac diagnostics, a regional cancer centre, paediatrics, critical care and maternal units, satellite dialysis for acute patients, and regional programs, including trauma, stroke and neurosurgery.
Plans also include renovating the Ouellette Campus where additional ambulatory services including an urgent care centre, laboratory, pharmacy and diagnostic imaging will be offered in the city’s core.
The hospital will feature larger rooms, spaces with capacity for growth during surge situations, a cafeteria with access to outdoor seating and links to city-planned trails and bus service, and an Indigenous healing space prominently located at the front of the building. It is being planned with the Indigenous community to accommodate ceremonies such as smudging and cedar baths.
To support the work, WRH is in the process of hiring a consultant to establish a vision for the use of technology and a strategy to ensure the technology is used to benefit patients, staff and visitors.
The project team is now awaiting further input from the MOH before moving ahead to future stages where schematic drawings will be developed and the procurement process will be started.