RGH’s new hospital tower may not be enough to solve overcapacity problems

Richmond’s increasing population could contradict Richmond General Hospital’s plan for compensation

A new tower planned for Richmond General Hospital is not expected to be big enough to accommodate the steady growth of patients as the city’s population grows.

The city completed a $10 million renovation in 2011 but since this project, Richmond’s population has increased by nearly 10,000 to 198,309 people according to Richmond’s 2016 census. Within that same amount of time, the number of beds in RGH has increased by 100. The only current plan for expansion is a new Acute Care Tower behind the hospital that will provide about six to eight additional hospital floors.

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Richmond General Hospital statistics according to the Richmond Hospital Foundation website.

Natalie D. Meixner, the president and chief executive officer of the Richmond Hospital Foundation, released a statement Oct. 20 voicing her concerns about the lack of space at the hospital.

“Hospital bricks and mortar help drive patient care and improve outcomes, but the original hospital tower cannot meet the needs of our booming population, most notably our exploding populations of seniors who will place enormous demands on our already strained local health care,” Meixner said.

According to the Richmond Hospital Foundation’s website, Richmond is expected to surpass 250,000 residents by 2030, and expects the number of seniors to more than double to 65,000 by 2030.

The foundation has $27 million in funds, $3 million of which are planned to be used for the project according to the BC Government News Webpage. The RHF website states that the tower is necessary to reflect the latest developments in patient-centred design and will meet or exceed standards of earthquake safety, and infection prevention and control.

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Growth rates provided by the Richmond Health Foundation’s website.

However, former Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse who now treats patients at home, Patty Friesen, is not confident the tower will be enough to solve RGH’s overcapacity problems.

“Richmond’s population is growing so rapidly that by the time the new tower is built, it would be bursting at the seams,” Friesen said.

The Richmond, Vancouver and North Shore Emergency Department wait times website shows that right now it takes over an hour for RGH patients to see a doctor. At this rate, wait times will continue to increase but Friesen says due to limited available land and funding, building an entirely new hospital would be impossible.

It’s recently come to light that the funds raised for this tower may be revoked, so these concerns over lack of space could end up being completely irrelevant, but lack of space won’t be.


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