Richmond politicians and a number of citizens are calling for the provincial government to step up and commit to funding a new acute care tower at Richmond Hospital.
Councillors Derek Dang, Bill McNulty and Linda McPhail launched a petition late last year in hopes of showing the B.C. government there is strong community support for replacing the aging building.
Since the petition was launched on Nov. 30, some 1,842 people have added their names and sent emails about the cause to Premier John Horgan.
“We started our petition a little over two months ago hoping to get 1,000 signatories asking the premier and his government to commit to a new acute care tower at Richmond Hospital in the 2018 provincial budget,” said McNulty. “We’re already at nearly 2,000 and it’s still going strong.”
“Our community is united calling for a replacement of our 50-year old acute-care tower and today we’re calling on the premier to act.”
The Richmond Hospital Foundation has also raised $27 million to date in support of the tower, and doctors and medical professions have spoken up about the issue, according to McPhail.
“The only one not stepping up now is the provincial government and we’re hoping they’ll finally step up in next week’s budget,” she said.
Since coming into office, Horgan’s government has committed to the construction of new hospitals in Williams Lake and Terrace, and have begun development plans for a new hospital in Surrey.
A master site plan for the Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake was completed in 2011, and an original concept plan was submitted in the spring of 2015. A revised plan was later submitted in October of 2017, before the green light was officially announced by provincial officials earlier this month.
A request for a new hospital in Terrace was first made in 2010, before concept planning began in 2013. The first concept plan was submitted to government in April 2014, before a revised plan was submitted in October of 2017. Just last week, it was announced the Terrace hospital would now move into the business plan stage.
Vancouver Coastal Health had developed a concept plan for a new acute-care tower in Richmond and shared those plans with the B.C. government in early 2017 but no action has been taken on those plans to date.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Richmond Hospital has one bed available per 1,000 people living in Richmond, the fewest of any hospital in British Columbia,” said Dang. “We’re not asking for special treatment, we’re asking for equal treatment and right now we’re far from it.”
Richmond Hospital opened in 1966 with 132 beds, while the city’s population at the time was less than 50,000. Today, there are 233 beds, while the city’s population has more than quadrupled to nearly 220,000.