A massive renovation of Petrolia’s hospital has taken a big first step.
The 25-year, $30 million plan to completely renovate Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital has been approved by the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network after a year and a half of work and waiting.
The plan begins with the reconstruction of the emergency and diagnostics departments which in 2017 were said to be in “immediate need of renovation.” The emergency department – originally designed to see 7,000 patients a year – saw just over 20,000 people come through the doors in 2018. The hope is to make the emergency department work better with improved design.
Laurie Zimmer, vice president of operations at Bluewater Health, says the LHIN’s approval this month is a step on the long road to getting the shovel in the ground. In April 2017, the provincial government announced a $7.5 million grant to reconfigure and update the hospital. In September, officials at an open house anticipated the work to begin in the next two or two and a half years.
But nearly two years after that proclamation, the CEEH plan is still in the approval process.
Zimmer and Bluewater Health’s Director of Communication, Julia Oosterman, says the process to have capital projects in hospitals has always been very long. But they admit the change in government has also slowed the process down.
“We have to be patient and be a good partner,” says Zimmer.
In the meantime, Zimmer hopes the LHIN approval of the overall renovation will help secure a loan to fix the aging infrastructure of the building.
The electrical and mechanical systems in the century-old building are at a breaking point. Zimmer says if there were to be a failure, the entire hospital would have to close down for three weeks to get things back up and running.
Bluewater Health has applied for $5 million to fix the problem