A new intensive care unit (ICU) is opening soon in Nanaimo, replacing an aging unit once called one of the worst in Canada.
The 12-bed ICU at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital will open for patients starting Wednesday, June 28, and offer “greater access to care,” according to B.C.’s Ministry of Health.
Health Minister Adrian Dix was at the hospital Monday to announce the expanded unit, which he says will bring health-care services closer to home for residents of the central Vancouver Island city.
“We heard the needs of people in Nanaimo, and I’m proud that our government responded with a new ICU that provides both a technological upgrade and an expansion in size to provide better health-care services,” said Dix at the opening ceremony.
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The ministry says the ICU, located south of the hospital’s emergency department, includes larger single-patient rooms, ceiling-mounted service booms, overhead patient lifts and medication and family consult rooms.
The hospital’s current 10-bed ICU, built in 1970, is “outdated in its space and functionality,” the ministry said in a release Monday.
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson says it was reported in 2013 as one of “the most dangerous” ICUs in Canada, and the new unit is greatly needed.
The physical condition of the Nanaimo unit was “by far the worst ICU we have seen in Canada,” according to findings from an external review that looked at three of Island Health’s ICUs.
“It is fantastic to see construction complete on the new ICU,” said Leah Hollins, board chair for Island Health.
“It will provide our care teams at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital with the space they need to deliver safe quality care. This new space is equipped to provide patients with specialized care, which will help save lives and support the critical care needs of the people we serve.”
The new ICU cost $41.6 million, while a still-under-construction high-acuity unit (HAU) is $18.5 million — for a total project budget of $60.1 million.
The ministry says the provincial government through Island Health, the Nanaimo Regional Hospital District and the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation are splitting project costs.
It says the 12-bed HAU at Nanaimo General will provide patients with more acute care and closer monitoring than a general ward but requires fewer resources than an ICU.
“The new HAU will replace the current, temporary eight-bed unit,” it said. “If there is an influx of patients requiring ICU-level care, the new HAU will be equipped to support these patients and provide the same level of monitoring and care.”
The HAU should open in the summer of 2024.