Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath expects to get down to work on designing the new hospital for Corner Brook this spring.
McGrath said the tender that closed on Feb. 18 on a request for proposals from proponents interested in the design/build project resulted in several interested submissions.
An evaluation committee made up of representatives from McGrath’s department, the Department of Health and Western Health are currently reviewing those submissions.
“They will analyze all the submissions and from that they’ll break it down to create a short list,” said McGrath. Once that’s complete the successful bidders will be made public.
The three successful proponents will then be brought together to discuss the next phase of the process. There may be an opportunity for some of those successful bidders to form partnerships, which is something the province hopes to see.
The successful proponents will be provided with government funding to move on to the next stage of the project, however McGrath did not specify just how much money they will receive.
“It’s very difficult to put a dollar on that until you sit with those successful proponents ... to find out are they forming partnerships, are they going to be just one proponent or is there going to be three proponents, and what scope of work is going to be in the next stage?”
McGrath said the next stage will follow on the master plan and functional plan to the actual design. McGrath said it will proceed as a campus style build. The first building will be the long-term care centre and McGrath hopes to see work start on that portion this summer through ground preparation and electrical servicing.
Right now, McGrath said it is still difficult to put a full price on the whole complex, although he added the province knows it will be over half a billion dollars.
There has already been $20 million spent on the project through consultation and site preparation, McGrath said.
“The important thing that we need to remember here is that what we’re looking at is we want to have the best facility possible at the end of the day,” he said.
As part of the project, the province will also look at how it can utilize other facilities within Western Health, including the O’Connell Centre. The former long-term centre was closed when the Corner Brook Long Term Care Home opened in 2010.
Health Minister Susan Sullivan said during a visit to Corner Brook last month that an analysis of the building by Transportation and Works identified numerous deficiencies. Those include issues with the fire alarm system, ventilation, plumbing, elevator, oxygen supply, the boiler and general disrepair.
“And I think what we’re learning is that it would cost significant dollars in term of retrofit,” said Sullivan. “It may not be the solution that we had hoped it would be.”
Because of the deficiencies identified, McGrath said it wouldn’t be feasible to look at the building for a medical facility.
“That building was built in 1949 when we first joined Confederation,” he said of the 65-year-old building. And, he said, the design of a hospital or medical care facility and the equipment in it is very different today than it was then.
He said the building could be used for office space for hospital administration and noted that’s something that has worked in other areas.
McGrath said the building had been used for offices for a while and is now being actively maintained to ensure its upkeep. That will continue until such time as his department conducts a feasibility plan and study on its future use. And he’s not ruling out that it could be sold.
He said it’s also too early to decide what will happen with the current Western Memorial and a feasibility plan and study will be completed for that facility, too.
“Right now the focus is on getting the new buildings built and up and running.”