Windsor one step closer to mega-hospital

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Windsor Star/Joel Boyce

Windsor has taken another significant step in the long journey toward building a state-of-the-art acute-care hospital.

The provincial government has given the committee overseeing the project permission to proceed to the next stage in the process, known as Stage 1B,  MPP Teresa Piruzza (L — Windsor West) announced during a Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Friday.

The response from Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj was: “This is exciting for the whole community.”

Stage 1B will get into specifics for this “mega-hospital,” which will become the single acute care hospital in the Windsor region.

Highlights of Stage 1B include the site selection, architectural master plans, an implementation schedule, detailed analysis of services that will be integrated at this hospital, high-level funding and financing plans, and the future use of existing facilities.

The Stage 1B process should take 9-12 months to complete.

“It’s not as simple as one might think,” Musyj said. “It’s a detailed discussion.”

This next stage will also include talks about what services will stay and what changes will occur at Windsor Regional’s existing sites. Windsor Regional currently operates acute services at two locations – the Met campus in South Walkerville and the downtown Ouellette campus (formerly Hotel-Dieu Grace, which last year moved to the Tayfour campus in West Windsor to provide non-acute services.)

Some may question the need for a new facility, said Musyj. He responds with a question of his own: “Do we reinvest or continue to reinvest in aging infrastructure or do we work toward building a new state-of-the-art acute-care hospital.”

Windsor Regional’s two campuses are increasingly out of date and unable to meet the needs of patients, staff and medical students, according to Musyj.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said. “There are more than 20 similar projects occurring elsewhere in the province. As a community, we should deserve or expect nothing less than that as well.”

He said the committee wants the public to be involved as much as possible.

A link at asks people to get involved and informed. Residents can leave their name and contact information, to stay connected with the latest information and participate in the capital planning process for the new modern hospital.

“This is their facility for their lifetime,” Musyj said.

According to the CEO, the process isn’t about planning for hospital needs 10 years from now, but what’s going to be needed in the hospital 30 or 50 years down the line.

“This facility is going to be with us for a lifetime,” he added. “We have to do it right.”

There are plans to find a warehouse and build mock-ups of hospital areas such as an emergency department or hospital room, and invite the community in before it’s permanently built, Musyj said. Members of the public will have the opportunity to look at plans, so they can make recommendations and suggestions on accessibility and specific amenities.

“We’re going to make sure they are directly involved in designing this facility,” he said. “If they ever have to use it, we want them to be comfortable. They’re the people who use it so we need their opinion on it.”

Musyj said he is frequently asked about the new hospital’s location, which is still up in the air.

The new site will need 50 to 60 acres, site configurations to accommodate parking and expansions, and easy access to the site by car, public transit, ambulance, service vehicles and emergency vehicles. The process will also take into consideration zoning issues, existing use, availability of municipal services and the cost of land. It will also need a helicopter pad.

If everything moves efficiently, the doors to the  new hospital could open in 7 to 10 years, Musyj said.

He added the process wouldn’t be nearly as advanced without Piruzza’s support and assistance.

“Teresa has been steadfast in her support for this,” Musyj said. “No matter what your political beliefs are, without her we wouldn’t be moving forward. She is making sure this moves forward and there are no delays.”