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Work on new Surrey hospital, B.C. cancer centre set to begin in July: Dix

City’s second hospital to be built in Cloverdale; expected to open in 2027
FILE - B.C. Health Minister Dix speaks during an announcement at Langara College in Vancouver Jan. 9, 2023. During an event in Surrey May 17, 2023, Dix said the government will announce next month who will build Surrey’s second hospital, in Cloverdale, with work starting in July. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix says the government will announce next month who will build Surrey’s second hospital, in Cloverdale, with work starting in July.

“It’s going to be the largest capital project, provincial contribution to a health capital project, in the history of British Columbia, the new Surrey hospital,” Dix said.

Dix spoke on the future of healthcare in Surrey and B.C. at a luncheon Wednesday, May 17 that was hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

“What we’re expecting is next month we’ll be announcing who’s building it, so we have a competitive building process,” Dix told the Now-Leader. “After that, the early works will start. I expect it will be substantially completed in 2026 and open in 2027.”

Surrey’s second hospital, after Surrey Memorial Hospital in Whalley, is to be built next to Kwantlen Polytechnic University at 5500 180th St. with an expected cost of $1.72 billion

The new hospital will have 168 acute care beds, five operating rooms, four “procedural” rooms, 29,000 surgical procedures annually, and will be expected to take on 78,000 visits per year.

“A modern, dynamic, technologically advanced hospital,” he said, “that’s going to contribute enormously to the community.

“We’re adding a cancer centre at the second Surrey hospital. Surrey will have the highest level of cancer care of any community in B.C., which makes sense because there’s going to be more people with cancer in Surrey than any community in B.C. People ask why cancer is the specialized care you are adding to the hospital? Today, by far, the largest cause of death of Surrey residents, and Langley residents, and Delta residents, and White Rock residents, is cancer. By far.”

Dix said B.C. is expecting the number of cancer diagnoses will go from 30,000 to 45,000. “But here, in Surrey, it’s going to increase by some 140 per cent over the next 15 years. We need a second cancer centre in Surrey. But when you ask why we decided to fully integrate a cancer centre, as opposed to other services into the hospital that we’re building, the second Surrey hospital that we’re building, that’s why. It’s because the experts in the area said that’s what’s needed in Surrey.”

READ ALSO: Surrey’s next hospital in Cloverdale advancing, Dix says

Meantime, one of the challenges Surrey Memorial Hospital faces, he noted, is that it is the only hospital in Surrey. A snapshot of SMH on May 17 had 671 patients at the hospital, with 744 total beds. “It is busy.”

Dr. Sally Barrio, the local department head of emergency medicine at SMH, presented a dire picture of the situation there.

Two days ago, she said, she admitted three patients with advanced cancer. “They were told in a hallway and they lay there languishing in a hallway coping with their new diagnosis. There’s no dignity in that,” she said. On Wednesday, she said, there were 80 patients in her department “the majority of them are in hallways, all of them old.”

“New hospital or not, our site needs a new tower or we need some sort of support on our campus,” Barrio told Dix. “We have a lot of complex patients that we see with multiple language barriers, health care issues from other countries, you know what the demographics are in Surrey, so it’s a very hard place to work.”

On Monday, Dix revealed at a presser that as of May 29 BC Cancer will offer some patients the option of receiving radiation treatment at “partner clinics” in Bellingham to help reduce wait times here. Through a “temporary agreement” with North Cascade Cancer Center and Peacehealth St. Joseph Medical Center, up to 50 B.C. cancer patients per week will be “supported” across the border.

On Wednesday he said during a media scrum in Surrey that the NDP government is not considering sending more B.C. patients down to Washington for other types of treatment.

“No, there’s specific need on cancer care in that area, and that’s not a typical response or even a first desirable response but there was an opportunity here to reduce wait times in an urgent way,” Dix said. “So no, not looking at that.”

“This was a specific opportunity, we saw that there was available space there and we decided to act on this, and I think it was the right decision.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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