BLOG: Government commitment brings hospital redevelopment one step closer

By Rob MacIsaac

Last week our community received some very good news in the provincial budget. The government’s capital spending plan for hospitals over the next 10 years now includes the major redevelopment of Hamilton Health Sciences.

We’ll be one of five hospital systems in Ontario to share in a newly-pledged $9 billion for renewal and rebuilding, and our proposal is the largest of the bunch. Hamilton Health Sciences is recommending changes that will transform the way we provide care – and although there is still much planning and discussion ahead, this early commitment by the government is a tremendous vote of confidence in the direction we’re pursuing

Two years ago, Hamilton Health Sciences began developing a 20-year vision for the future of our organization. Late in 2016, with the input of patients and families, service partners, our staff and physicians, as well as the public at large, we made a series of bold recommendations to the provincial government.

This includes redeveloping existing facilities and designing new ones to improve our reach in the communities we serve. We are also thinking long-term about the growing significance of our many specialty programs, in terms of local economic stimulus, provincial health care planning and global research impact.

This includes redeveloping existing facilities and designing new ones to improve our reach in the communities we serve.

Hamilton Health Sciences’ specialty programs are among the highest  quality, and highest volume in Ontario. People travel province-wide to Hamilton to receive the care we provide for cancer, pediatrics, neurosurgery, rehabilitation, burns, stroke, trauma, cardiology and vascular. 

We foresee a need to cluster these programs at our Hamilton General and Juravinski campuses, in order to maintain the best patient experience and to ensure fast access to emerging, high-cost medical technologies. We propose to build a new Children’s and Women’s Hospital at the General campus and to relocate programs at St. Peter’s Hospital to new, custom-built space at the Juravinski campus. The West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby would also be rebuilt on its existing site, with a focus community medicine and day surgery.

These changes would create a new platform for our hospital care, designed for the next generation of patients and families, health care needs and medical technologies.

we’re going to need 50 per cent more hospital space than we occupy today

This plan does mean major change – positive change that will allow us to increase the number of beds we have and the number of people we can serve. We know we’re going to need 50 per cent more hospital space than we occupy today because of population growth and the need to enhance privacy, accessibility and infection control standards. This investment will be significant and that’s why we’re so grateful to know that Hamilton Health Sciences is in the Government of Ontario’s queue for capital funding to support our redevelopment.

Hamilton Health Sciences is also working hard with community partners to design ways  to prevent people from needing hospital care in the first place.

However, robust hospital services are only part of our vision. Hamilton Health Sciences is also working hard with community partners to design ways  to prevent people from needing hospital care in the first place.

Today, many of our patients come to the hospital for care not because of medical issues, but as a result of social circumstances. If you don’t have a roof over your head, nutritious food to eat or a family member to catch you when you fall, you are very likely to become a frequent user of hospital services. This is a particular problem in Hamilton’s urban core, where hospital usage is the highest of any city area in Ontario.

Hamilton’s unique health determinants, combined with the impact across Canada of aging and an accompanying rise in the incidence of chronic disease, means that business as usual will not be good enough to meet the needs of this community. Hamilton Health Sciences’ plan is a careful balance between reimagined facilities and community-based services that will create the best health services for the people we serve.

I am tremendously proud of our teams at Hamilton Health Sciences, and the care we provide to people and families from our local communities and from across Ontario. Last week’s announcement brings us one step closer to securing that care for generations to come.

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