The B.C. government will be funding more of the new hospital ER than officially announced, health minister Adrian Dix said as construction was kicked off Friday.
What was originally a $20 million commitment from the province and Fraser Health has now been increased to $29.32 million, said Dix.
“We owe better facilities to the people who work in hospitals,” Dix said at the ceremony on hospital grounds.
He also took a potshot at the BC Liberals, who announced the plan before the 2017 provincial election, saying they had not budgeted for the projects they rolled out just before the vote.
The Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation has pledged to raise $15 million towards the project, and has already raised 80 per cent of its goal, with major donors from several Langley families and $1.5 million from the Langley Hospital Auxiliary.
A number of donors and community members attended the official start of the project, along with some hospital staffers, many of whom had to head back inside early to return to operating rooms.
“They’re really excited,” said Dr. Richard Hsu, who has worked in the Langley Memorial ER since 1992.
“It’s been a struggle, I’ll be honest with you,” Hsu said of the size and scope of the present ER, which dates back decades, to when Langley had less than half its present population.
Dix noted that Langley needs a new ER, but the community also needs more hospital beds, more preventative medicine, and more family doctors. Operational funding and new initiatives will also be needed in the future to get those things in place, he said.
The expanded ER will increase the number of treatment spaces to 49 from 31. It will include a separate pediatric waiting area for children and, to increase privacy, different entrances will be installed to separate walk-in patients from those who arrive by ambulance.
A new secure, separate treatment area will be built for mental-health and substance-use patients.
Construction work is expected to be complete late in 2020.