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Need of the Hour: Surrey’s Second Hospital

BY GURLEEN KAUR BAJWA, 29 Jan, 2020

    A second hospital, being built in Cloverdale, adjacent to the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Campus at 5500180 St., is expected to begin construction within three years.

    Surrey, a city which is expected to become the biggest in the province by 2030in terms of population, has perhaps not received quite the amount of attention it deserves. This is especially true in terms of its health sector, as evidenced by its one hospital. Surrey Memorial Hospital was built back in 1959,and while it has since undergone massive expansions, the fact remains that it is the only one servicing the majority of the rapidly increasing half a million population of Surrey. This is evidenced only too clearly with the problem of overflowing patients and ridiculous waitlists. However, it seems there is finally some form of solution on the horizon.

    A second hospital, being built in Cloverdale, adjacent to the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Campus at 5500180 St., is expected to begin construction within three years. Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum believes this is a project that has been long overdue, and that “with the growth Surrey is experiencing,[it] will alleviate the wait times at Surrey Memorial Hospital, while providing state-of-the-art public health-care services for residents.” However, while this is exciting news in theory, it is pertinent to carefully consider the details of this new hospital, including who it benefits the most, what sets it apart from the existing services provided at Surrey Memorial, and the more practical matter of when it will actually be opening.

    According to Health Minister Adrian Dix, the location of the hospital was carefully chosen in order to have geographical balance in terms of service. In fact, one of the main reasons why the process of the hospital had been detained for so long, was because choosing such a location had proven difficult. A multitude of factors had to be considered, including the location of Surrey Memorial, so that the new hospital would be most beneficial for those who have the most difficulty in reaching the pre-existing one.

    Cloverdale was finally settled upon, as Mayor McCallum also voiced that the “location chosen in Cloverdale is well positioned to delivering services in an area where there is a great need.” Minister Dix also believes that the hospital will be a big step forward for health care in general for the Lower Mainland, as it will be introducing “more doctors and nurses, as well as state of the art medical technology, and faster, better care, closer to home.” There are also more logistical aspects of the new hospital to consider, including the actual timeline of the project.

    The announcement of the second hospital in 2017, started the process of ‘concept planning’ which involves laying out the general proposal and identifying potential locations. This concept plan was recently approved in December2019 by Premier John Horgan. From the plans, the new Surrey Hospital will reportedly have an expansive set of resources, including beds, an emergency department, operating rooms, lab and diagnostic services, outpatient services and virtual care services. Going forward, the next stage is the business planning stage, and is projected to take about12-18 months. Only following that, will the actual price tag of the hospital be released to the public, as the project moves into procurement. Assuming the current concept plan schedule remains in place, construction could then start in 2023,with the new hospital opening in 2027.

    However it is important to note that a second hospital should not necessarily be considered a satisfactory solution for the current problems faced by residents in Surrey in regard to their healthcare services. When accounting for the12,000-18,000 immigrants arriving each year, the population of Surrey is expected to surpass that of Vancouver in a decade. However, Vancouver has seven hospitals, while Surrey will have two; in about seven plus years. Furthermore, according to local residents, such as Dr. Pargat Singh Burji, while a second hospital will certainly help Surrey, there is a need to “plan for a third one as well.” Therefore, it’s vital to see the current developments not as a solution, but as a step in the right direction, and perhaps a good sign for the future.

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