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Burnaby Hospital work will include pandemic safeguards

The redeveloped Burnaby Hospital will be better prepared for pandemics than existing facilities, according to Fraser Health officials.

Anita Wempe, clinical director of the Burnaby Hospital redevelopment, made the remarks in response to a question about pandemic preparedness at a town hall event regarding the project.

“There’s a number of additions that we are including to make sure that the hospital’s better prepared not just for a pandemic, but for all infection control,” she said.

“In the emergency room, we’re going to be including [a] better air pressured room to help with infection control.”

The air pressured room refers to the practice of positive air pressure in the trauma resuscitation room and negative air pressure in the room outside of the positive pressure room.

The positive pressure is intended to constantly pump fresh air into the room, while the negative pressure room acts as a buffer between rooms and has more air being pulled out of the room by the HVAC system.

“And we actually have a brand new medical unit being built, which can be divided into two separate areas for outbreak control,” Wempe said.

“The whole hospital as a site will have more areas for handwashing [in] the standard areas between patients and private rooms.”

The Cascade Building’s demolition

Fraser Health, Burnaby Hospital, and Burnaby Hospital Foundation officials were in attendance at the virtual town hall, held Monday evening. They delivered a short presentation on the redevelopment project before taking questions from the audience.

Questions ranged from accessibility to the impacts on neighbours from construction to the number of new beds in the redevelopment.

Noor Esmail, chief project officer and executive director of the hospital redevelopment, said the Cascade Building’s demolition will not be disruptive for neighbours.

The Cascade Building is being taken down after it was damaged in an arson last November. Esmail said the demolition of that building will be tightly controlled and done piece by piece, rather than with a wrecking ball or anything major.

Esmail said demolition will be continuing into December, with more structural demolition work starting in November.

With that building coming down, the phase one expansion, which is expected to be completed in 2027, is expected to see a net gain of 24 new beds.

The removal of Cascade will be offset by 83 new beds in the Keith and Betty Beedie Pavillion, which is the largest expansion in phase one.

That phase will also see expansion and renovations of the support facilities building, including a larger emergency department, expanding operating rooms and procedure rooms, and adding pre- and post-operative recovery spaces, among other additions.

The phase two expansion, tentatively set to launch in 2025 and to be completed in 2028, will see expanded cancer services and a new patient care tower with 160 new beds.

Accessibility and Indigenous input

One attendee said they have a sister who uses a wheelchair, asking if there would be adult change tables and lifts.

Wempe said the new facilities will have accessible washrooms “throughout the entire site.” She said phase two will have adult change tables, but they weren’t included in the plans for phase one.

“We recognize that it was lacking, and so we are looking at this throughout our planning to see if this can be added,” Wempe said.

Wempe also said staff is already working in partnership with local Indigenous communities on planning the redevelopment.

“And we’ll be meeting with them more, further into the future, when we get into interior design, working closely with them to include aspects of their heritage into our building,” Wempe said.

With the construction process, Esmail said Fraser Health is undertaking a bit of a different process from normal. Typically, a public body would contract out a designer and then separately put out a bid for construction contractors.

With phase one of the Burnaby Hospital redevelopment, Esmail said, Fraser Health is using a “design build,” in which one firm—in this case, Vancouver-based EllisDon—will take on both design and construction.

With phase two, Esmail said Fraser Health is hiring architects and engineers in-house. Currently that team is working on an “indicative design,” which isn’t a final model. That design will be going forward with the final business case for the development.

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