by Gary Chalk, for the Brantford Expositor

Shown in front of the ambulance entrance at Brantford General Hospital, L-R: Kari Wilson, executive director, BCHS Foundation; Peter Quinlan, BCHS Board Chair; Mayor David Bailey, Brant County; Larry Brock, MP Brantford-Brant; Will Bouma, MPP, Brantford-Brant; Erin Sleeth, interim President & CEO, BCHS; Dr. Lee Ferrao, BCHS Foundation Board Chair; and Mayor Kevin Davis, City of Brantford.

Friday afternoon a group gathered at the Brantford General Hospital to tour the construction underway in the emergency department and get an update on progress.

Planning for this important renovation at the BGH campus has been in the works for many years.

“I joined the board five years ago,” Peter Quinlan, chair said, “Our staff, physicians, volunteers, and numerous representatives from Brantford, Brant County, Six Nations of the Grand River, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation have been working diligently to reach this point to design and build our emergency department to meet our communities’ expectations.” Quinlan outlined the various phases required to get shovels in the ground. “It is a very complicated process including many stages of approval with the provincial government.”

“This project is an absolute necessity for everyone throughout our community, including the emergency department staff, physicians, volunteers, and paramedics.”

The Emergency Department Renovation Improvement Project is a 25,000-square-foot interior and exterior upgrade. The first phase includes a new walk-in entrance, renovation of the patient entry, waiting, triage, and registration areas, and the extended stay area. A new see and treat area will be built along with an Indigenous Healing Lodge. Construction has begun and is expected to take three and a half years. About 9,795 sq. ft. will be added to the current space.

Throughout the past decade our local population has increased by over 10 per cent and the number of patients coming to Brantford and Brant County’s only emergency department is now more than 58,000 a year. It is expected that patient volumes will continue to grow to over 70,000 patient visits a year by 2030.

“Residents who need emergency care and the physicians, staff, and volunteers who care for them, deserve to be treated in a modern facility with state-of-the-art equipment,” Erin Sleeth, interim president and CEO, Brant Community Healthcare System (Brantford General Hospital and The Willett in Paris) said.

Last July, the Ontario government invested over $28 million towards the project.

Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma said he has been working with the BGH redevelopment project literally from the first week of his election in 2018. “From a starting point of essentially zero to secure funding for immediately required renovations to the emergency department is a testament to the focus, dedication, and hard work of all stakeholders involved.”

The Brant Community Healthcare System Foundation is responsible for raising over $8 million towards the local share of the construction costs, as well as medical equipment and furnishings for the Emergency Department. “To date, we have raised more than $6 million,” Kari Wilson, executive director said. “We are in the home stretch of the ED campaign.”

Throughout the project, a portion of Terrace Hill Street will be closed for about one year.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience and support as we complete the construction,” Dr. Somaiah Ahmed, chief and medical director of Emergency Medicine said. “It is important to know that the emergency department will always be open.”

The Emergency Department Renovation Improvement Project has been a long time coming, proving that good things come to those who wait.