Bulkley Valley District Hospital (File photo)

Master planning process for new hospital expected to be completed by October

Cormac Hikisch told The Interior News these projects typically take seven to 12 years to complete.

If all goes to plan, Smithers could have a brand new hospital in the next 15 years.

Speaking with The Interior News, Cormac Hikisch, Northern Health health service administrator, said the Bulkley Valley District Hospital (BVDH) is well along in the master planning process.

“I’m excited to see us moving in this direction,” he said.

“[BVDH] is certainly getting relatively close to end of life and the master planning process really initiates those redevelopment plans.”

Hikisch said he hopes the process, which is the first of four major ones required to build a new hospital, should be done in September or October of this year.

Once master planning is finished, the proposal must go through concept and business planning. The final phase is construction, which can take up to four years.

While he remains cautiously optimistic about the development, Hikisch notes that there are also a number of ministerial and provincial approvals required between stages.

Even if everything goes to plan, he said, it’s hard to say exactly how long it will be before Smithers has a new hospital.

“When I’ve asked about this myself … in their experience it’s typically a seven-to-12 year range in terms of where they’ve seen projects that are starting this first step moving to full completion.”

Hikisch points to Terrace’s Mills Memorial Hospital, which is just now moving from their business planning stage to construction, as an example of the time frame associated with such projects.

“They’ve been at that for seven, eight years now.”

He said that, assuming development does continue, the plan would be to build the hospital on the same property as the current BVDH.

The current hospital would then continue operating until a new one was built so as not to suspend critical health service to the area.

Again expressing the caveat that nothing is guaranteed, Hikisch said he remains optimistic for a quick segue into concept planning once the master planning phase of development has been completed.

The BVDH officially opened its doors Sep. 1, 1920.

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