Kamloops council on Tuesday unanimously approved a development permit for the nine-storey, patient-care tower at Royal Inland Hospital.
Mayor Ken Christian said the project is the largest building permit the city has ever issued, an addition to the hospital he said is “sorely needed.”
“RIH has served this region nobly,” he said. “But its time has come.”
Christian said Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton have new hospitals and, in 2022, Kamloops will be added to that list. He said a rooftop heliport will eliminate the need for emergency ambulance transfer.
The patient-care tower, being constructed behind the three-year-old clinical services building, will include 42 underground parking spaces and 157 surface parking spots and a rooftop heliport. The $417-million expansion is expected to be completed by spring 2022, opening that summer.
Interior Health interim chief project officer David Fowler said the project remains on schedule.
“The footings are being poured and the columns are starting to come out of the ground,” he said. “So, that’s a good thing. From there, they go up into the full superstructure, which is basically the concrete tower. They do their permits in stages, which is typical for a building this size. It allows them to get going on the construction early.”
According to Interior Health, the building will be 26,723 square metres in size and contain respiratory, mental-health, maternal and child and surgical services, as well as retail space and a main entryway into the hospital.
Fowler noted the significance of single-patient rooms — a mix of surgical and mental-health beds — earmarked for the building as part of a provincial directive. He said the majority of old facilities throughout the province offer shared rooms. Single-patient rooms are said to reduce infections and increase privacy, with the inclusion of dedicated washrooms.
The building will also create a new main entrance to the hospital. Whereas in the past, patients have arrived at RIH via different entryways, the tower will provide a dedicated and defined main entrance to the multi-building hospital — an open-concept glass entrance with a large atrium and space for gathering. The atrium will be built in the location of an old courtyard.
Exterior design put forward in the development permit application looks a little different from previous renderings, the result of early proposals hammered out, Fowler said. As for interior design, Interior Health is engaging staff and First Nations for input. Interior Health communications consultant Kevin Parnell said meetings with department heads, staff and the EllisDon design team aim to create rooms and working areas well-suited for patients and staff.
As part of the construction project, an 89-stall parking lot has been demolished to pave way for the new building.
However, despite the loss of stalls, which were previously used for staff and physician parking, 42 underground and 157 surface parking spots will be built — with a net gain of 110 stalls.
Fowler said 40 per cent of those stalls will be for the public and 60 per cent will be for staff.
Parking complaints continue to swirl around the hospital, with staff parking down the street and some downtown workers parking in the new clinical services building, which was intended to alleviate parking problems at RIH.
Fowler hopes the additional 110 new stalls will be enough to satisfy needs of staff and the public. He said Interior Health will conduct an updated traffic/parking study about one year after the project’s completion.
During discussion on Tuesday, prior to council approving the development permit, Coun. Sadie Hunter questioned why there are only two handicapped parking stalls, given the patients who will be served by the facility.
City staff said the issue would be addressed.
The patient care tower is a two-phased project. The next phase includes renovating and expanding the emergency department, paediatrics, post-anaesthetic recovery and the morgue. A timeline on that is unclear.
RIH patient care tower, floor by floor:
• Level one: open concept glass entrance, reception and admitting area, RIH Foundation offices and meeting space, retail space for the auxiliary gift shop and coffee shop, enclosed atrium in location of former outdoor courtyard for patients, public and staff.
• Level two: child and adolescent mental health services, including three paediatric psychiatry private rooms with secure outdoor courtyard and child outpatient psychiatry services, and respiratory services, including one bronchoscopy suite and two pulonary function labs.
• Level three: maternal and child health inpatient unit, including 14 private ante/postpartum patient rooms, six private labour delivery and recovery rooms, eight private neonatal intensive care unit bassinet rooms and four NICU stabilization bays.
• Level four: surgical services, including 11 operating rooms and post-anesthetic recovery (during phase two of renovations.)
• Level five: surgical staff space and support services, staff outdoor amenities areas and mechanical equipment.
• Level six: mental health and substance use psychiatric inpatient unit, including 10-bed unit with secure outdoor patio and 20 inpatient beds with secure outdoor patio.
• Levels seven and eight: Medical inpatient units, with private patient rooms and ensuite washroom.
• Level nine: mechanical, electrical.
• Level 10: helipad and elevator machine room.