Skip to content

$260-million RCH redevelopment a game changer for mental health

“This changes everything.

“This changes everything.”

That was how Royal Columbian Hospital head of psychiatry Anson Koo described the impact the recently announced $260-million redevelopment of his health care centre will have on people battling mental illness in the Fraser Health Authority.

Phase one of a three-phase total redevelopment of the New Westminster hospital was announced by Health Minister Terry Lake at Royal Columbian Wednesday.

With almost $250 million from the province and just over $9 million from the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, the first stage includes a 75-bed mental health and substance use facility and the health authority’s first dedicated geriatric psychiatry unit for elderly patients with acute depression, anxiety or psychosis.

Phase one also features eight added or expanded outpatient clinics to help patients transition to community mental health services and community life.

Koo explained Wednesday that RCH’s current aging 30-bed Sherbrooke Centre was originally built as a nursing dormitory, not a mental health unit.

“I think we all know that it falls short in so many ways as a psychiatric unit,” he said. “Very soon our patients will receive care in a modern, purpose-built mental health facility, which is more than two-and-a-half times our current size and, more importantly, has a therapeutic environment with open spaces to the outdoors, privacy and ample light. Believe it or not, our current space does not have these things – things that will actually promote healing and recovery in our patients who come into hospital.”

The first part of the hospital’s rebuild will also include a new parkade, an energy centre and the relocation of the air-ambulance helipad.

Phase one is scheduled to begin with the construction of the helipad this fall.

Construction on the mental health facility and energy centre will begin in 2016, and completion for phase one is set for 2019.

Phases two and three are expected to add new acute-care beds, a new and larger emergency department, new operating suite and upgrades to existing spaces.

The final scope and schedule for the project are expected to be finalized by 2016.