Ending months of silence, the provincial government today confirmed it has signed an agreement with PCL Constructors Westcoast to build the new Mills Memorial Hospital and accompanying Seven Sisters mental health facility.
The announcement came with a new price tag — $622.6 million, a dramatic increase from the $447.5 million forecast in 2019 when the project approval was first announced.
Even without a formal final agreement, multi-national PCL has been gearing up toward construction for months with its presence on site accelerating in late spring after the building footprint between the current Mills and the Sande Overpass was logged and the ground levelled.
The new Mills will be roughly twice the size of the current facility which was built in 1959 and which is considered well past its prime.
From the current 44 beds, the new Mills will have 78 beds in different departments.
The main medical ward is to increase to 36 beds from the current 24, five new beds will make up a northwest orthopaedic ward by consolidating that service from other facilities, the intensive card ward will be eight beds, up from the current five, and the regional psychiatric unit will double in size from 10 beds to 20 beds.
Instead of rooms containing four beds and inadequate washrooms, patients will now have their own rooms, meeting a standard that’s now an accepted standard in other new hospitals.
Plans also call for a doubling of the emergency department from 10 to 20 treatment spaces and for four operating rooms, up from three.
The Seven Sisters mental health facility now at 20 beds will be demolished to make room for the new Mills but a replacement will have 25 beds and be located on the same property.
Based on current scheduling, the new Mills will be finished and ready in 2025 with demolition of the current Mills to take until late 2026.
Despite the construction cost increase, a 2019 deal between the North West Regional Hospital District, a regional taxing authority which helps finance large scale health expenditures, and the province has sheltered regional taxpayers.
That’s because the financing deal caps the hospital district to 30 per cent of the cost to a maximum $113.7 million which includes the $3.5 million project business plan.