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Full steam ahead for new hospital in Fort St. James

Full steam ahead for new hospital in Fort St. James

January 18, 2020 at 4:29 pm  BC, News, Politics

The new, state-of-the-art Stuart Lake Hospital that will provide better health care and create more jobs for people is ready for construction, following the Province’s approval of the project business plan.

“For more than 12 years, people in Fort St. James were promised a new hospital, but the old government failed to act and patients were left waiting without the health care they need and deserve,” said Premier John Horgan. “After years of delay, I’m proud that our government is getting it done, so people can get the health care they count on. This project will give the community an economic boost, with hundreds of new construction jobs and the highest quality health care for people in the region. This is all part of our plan to deliver better health care, closer to home.”

The new hospital will be three times larger than the current facility with 27 beds, including 18 long-term care beds. There will be an emergency department with two treatment rooms, a trauma bay and ambulance bay. A laboratory and diagnostic imaging will also be part of the new facility.

The hospital will include a primary care centre that will consolidate services currently being offered in Fort St. James to one location, reducing the distance patients and staff need to go for diagnostic imaging and lab services. It will be home to physicians, visiting specialists, substance-use supports, home and community care, and public health.   

Approximately 450 direct and 300 indirect jobs will be created during construction.

The estimated project cost is $116 million, shared between the Province through Northern Health, and Stuart-Nechako Regional Hospital District, which will contribute $20 million.

With government approval of the business plan, the project will proceed to procurement. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2021. The hospital is targeted to open for patients in 2024.

“We are moving forward with a new hospital for people in Fort St. James and area, which will bring high-quality public health care, as well as community-based services in one location to the region for decades to come,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Many partners helped get us to this important milestone, and I want to thank Stuart-Nechako Hospital District, the community of Fort St. James, and the Nak’azdli Whut’en, Yekooche First Nation, Tl’azt’en Nation (Tache, Binche, Middle River) and Takla Lake First Nation.”

The new hospital will be built on the same site as the existing one. Once complete, the existing facility will be demolished to make way for parking.

The current hospital opened in 1972 and is outdated in terms of space, functionality and technology. The hospital has 12 beds and offers emergency, acute and complex care, as well as residential care, lab and X-ray services, as well as mental-health and addictions counselling.

Discussions regarding the replacement of the hospital have been ongoing since 2008. In September 2015, Northern Health submitted a concept plan to the Ministry of Health. Northern Health submitted a revised concept plan to government in summer 2018, which was approved in October 2018. The business plan phase finalizes details, such as scope and budget.

All new hospitals in B.C. are planned to a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standard.

The investment in a new Stuart Lake Hospital is part of a wide range of work underway to deliver comprehensive health services for people in the Northern Health region. This includes a redeveloped and expanded Dawson Creek and District Hospital, a new Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, two new urgent and primary care centres in Prince George and Quesnel, as well as progress made for a new emergency department and intensive care unit with redevelopment of the G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel.


Colleen Nyce, board chair, Northern Health

“We are thankful to Premier Horgan, Minister Dix and the provincial government for the decision to move to the next steps in replacing the Stuart Lake Hospital and for investing in health care for the people in Fort St. James and area. This collaborative project was brought together by the Province of B.C., the Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District, Northern Health and the people residing in the communities and area served by Stuart Lake Hospital.”

Jerry Petersen, chair, Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District

“This investment announcement within our region is tremendous news for the community of Fort St. James and the surrounding rural and First Nation populations that rely on the invaluable local health services provided from this facility, not only today, but now secured for the future. A long-term commitment to health care in Fort St. James alleviates pressures in our neighbouring communities, and for that, a well-deserved thank you to the provincial government, Northern Health and regional hospital district elected officials and staff for your dedication and commitment to this project.”

A backgrounder follows.

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