Bluewater Health officials say the emergency department at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital will be renovated in the next two to five years and then replaced as part of a 25 year plan to upgrade the hospital.
Officials unveiled their plans for the hospital during a Nov. 21 Open House. Bluewater Health and the Town of Petrolia have been working together to plot the future of health care and wellness in the region. The town is considering how to make the streets more accessible, making sure there are tree-lined sidewalks with easy access to the downtown and pinpointing areas which could be used for various kinds of seniors housing.
The hospital has been working on a long-term renovation plan for the Petrolia hospital. Laurie Zimmer, vice president of operations and rural health says the first signs of that should appear in two to five years. “We are hoping in the next two-and-a-half years we’ll be able to start renovations, as soon as were able to determine area in emergency department that needs the most renovation,” she tells The Independent. The hospital will also be looking at improving the power plant of the hospital so in the future, Bluewater Health will be able to expand.
During the open house, consultants unveiled the plan saying the studies done by Bluewater Health showed the emergency and diagnostics departments required immediate renovations.
“The emergency department was originally designed for 7000 visits, and we see actually 22,000 visits in the existing space,” says Zimmer. “We are going to take some of the initial dollars to renovate that space and make it more conducive to flow and the volume of patients that we see.”
The province has already approved $7.5 million for the work at Petrolia, but Zimmer says more funding will be needed for the 25 year plan.
After the emergency and diagnostics department renovations, the hospital will start looking at the power plant – the electrical systems of the hospital -to see how it can be improved for future expansion.
Then, Bluewater Health begins the construction of new emergency and diagnostics departments.
The plan shows that building where the current parking lot now stands.
Part of the construction will include an upgraded entrance off Dufferin St. including new landscaping and a outdoor plaza for staff and improved open spaces for visitors and the community.
The plan also calls for connections to local trails and a street connection to Glenview Road to improve access and circulation.
The services now provided in the original Englehart House will be transferred to the new addition and the house will be returned to the town, says Zimmer.
In 10 to 15 years, the plan calls for the construction of a new addition between the existing diagnostic imaging and lab to provide administrative space. The extra buildings then will also be demolished.
In 15 to 25 years, Bluewater Health anticipates building a new acute care unit to the south of the current building on land that overlooks Heritage Heights Golf Course.
The existing acute inpatient unit would then be demolished and an addition will be built on the south side of the continuing care unit, which fronts on Blanche St., to provide added space and house non-clinical services.
While Zimmer couldn’t say how much floor space would be added to the hospital over the course of the 25 year plan, the modeling, seen here to the right, appears to show more than a doubling of the size of the hospital.
“The details are not finalized that completely,” she says. “We are going to the (Erie St. Clair) LHIN in January…that’s the next piece of understanding the programing and the square footages to meet the needs of the plan.”
Zimmer says all the expansion can be done on land already owned by the hospital. And she says the services at the hospital now will be maintained.
There is a possibility for expansion in the future. “That will have to be determined as we continue through the process and it will be based on patient volumes and population but we know there is a large cohort of elderly people here that will need servicing.
“We hope we have alleviated the myths and the fears (about the hospital’s future) and we hope people are feeling more comfortable about what their hospital will look like in the future.”