“Potential to be a landmark health care facility,” Hall
November 30, 2006
By Lori Ledingham
The Markdale Standard
The audience at a public forum on the new Centre Grey Hospital held Nov. 14 learned how plans are proceeding towards the new facility. About 250 people turned out to meet the architects, project managers and planners who outlined in detail how the hospital will be situated, designed and constructed.
Dr. Hamilton Hall, Chair of the Steering Committee, spoke first, commenting, “It seems like only a few months ago that we kicked off the hospital campaign which ultimately raised well over $13 million.”
“Now it’s almost too good to be true. We are going to have a new hospital.”
In May 2006, minister of health George Smitherman came to Markdale to announce a $3 million planning grant to pay for planning and design of the new hospital. This planning work by architects and project managers is now being undertaken.
Asked about the timing of the project, Grey Bruce Health Services CEO Pat Campbell said, “We’ve got a very aggressive time line planned for this new facility and we’ll be looking for input from residents as we move along with the plans.”
On the current schedule, the design and planning process will be completed by August 2007 so the money for the hospital can be included in the government’s capital budget estimates for 2008. Subject to provincial approval, the tendering process would begin in October 2007 and construction start in early 2008 with completion possible in mid-2009.
Introducing the principals from the design and planning firm Cohos Evamy, as well as the architects from Genivar, Hamilton Hall commented on the excellent credentials of each. With the combination of their experience working for our hospital, “I feel our hospital has the potential to be a landmark health care facility.”
Architect Craig Applegath announced, “I’m going to tell you what is going to make your hospital successful. We [Cohos Evamy] are a firm that believes strongly in functionality at the same time we want to build a place that you are going to be proud of.”
“I want to reiterate what an opportunity you have here,” Applegath continued. “You have the kind of facility that is a once in a lifetime opportunity – a new hospital on a new site.”
He and partner David Czerny outlined the detailed six-step process entailed in creating the plans for the hospital ranging from the initial vision to a rigorous peer review of the plans.
Three potential sites for the hospital were shown, all on the south side of Grey Gables alongside Highway 10 in Markdale.
There was some discussion and concern regarding the new hospital interfering with Memorial Grove – a park near the site containing maple trees planted to honour local veterans. Members of the Royal Canadian Legion attending the meeting were given assurances at the meeting that the Grove would be considered in the plans and, if necessary, the trees and park would be carefully relocated.
Campbell was asked about the possibility of the Ministry of Health delaying approval at the various stages and slowing progress. She replied, “The teams that we’ve hired have a history of working with this government and we hope that puts us in good standing moving ahead.”
She also noted, “The provincial Director of Capital Planning told me that the government doesn’t give $3 million if it doesn’t intend to build the building.”
Maureen Solecki, VP Strategic Planning for GBHS, added, “One of the strengths this architectural firm brings to this project is their recent work on the Listowel hospital redevelopment project, which followed the ministry’s new approval process, which recognizes the need to integrate the various stages of the planning processes instead of doing them in lock step which was the traditional process.”
Hamilton Hall said the Nov. 14 meeting held at Grey Highlands Secondary School will be the first of several public consultations. He noted the planners are holding focus group meetings with hospital and medical staff, people involved in mental health, primary health care and others.
Pat Campbell confirmed the next public meeting will be in January when the a design showing the location of the hospital will be unveiled.
The design will include plans to integrate the 20-bed hospital containing two operating rooms and a procedure room with a proposed medical clinic, all connected to the Grey Gables home for the aged.
The government recently announced a new funding formula under which the province pays for 90 per cent of eligible costs for construction of new facilities. At this point, the items that constitute “eligible costs” are not clear.
Hamilton Hall explained, “In addition to the question of how the new 90/10 funding will affect our hospital project, we also know that the government is now funding nothing for hospital equipment. It used to be 50/50 on equipment – now it’s zero on equipment. It’s very clear that all of the $13 million raised by the community will be needed for the new facility.”
Campbell concurred, “I’m sure we’ll find at the end of the day that we’re very close to the original 50/50 formula [the government and the community each paying 50 per cent of a projected $12 million hospital]. This is especially true considering some of the additional costs that we’ll inevitably see.”
Asked if a change of government could put a stop to the hospital, Pat Campbell noted, “In politics you can never tell, but we will do everything necessary to set it up so that the plans can be approved and be in capital budget for the coming year. Your elected official are there to serve you and they should be made aware of your feelings regarding this new hospital.
Hall is confident the project will meet ministry guidelines and time lines and despite a provincial election set for next October he’s hopeful the government will do everything to get the funding in place.
“They gave us a $3 million planning grant. The government doesn’t put $3 million into a planning grant unless they are prepared to build a hospital,” he said.
photo credit: Lori Ledingham for the Markdale Standard