Province backs new North Shore mental health care facility to the tune of $37.2 million
Soon cranes will be at Lions Gate Hospital to start building a $62.2-million acute mental health facility.
After five years of planning, on Friday, April 29, the province announced it would back the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation in its push for a much anticipated new facility. The current Activation building, which was constructed in 1929, is "woefully out of date," Minister of Health Michael de Jong said at the project's unveiling.
The new four-storey, 26-bed facility includes a space for the University of British Columbia (UBC) faculty of medicine and a new ambulance station for BC Ambulance Service.
The plan wouldn't have come to fruition without the hard work of the foundation, de Jong said. Over the years the volunteer organization has raised $70 million for Lions Gate Hospital. With the completion of North Shore Hospice, the foundation is focusing on its $25-million commitment to the mental health facility.
"We wouldn't be here but for the efforts of this remarkable group," de Jong said.
So far the foundation has raised $5 million to put toward its commitment, said Judy Savage, president of the foundation.
"We are going to run at least a year long [fundraising] campaign," Savage said.
One in five British Columbians are touched by mental illness. The foundation has hosted a number of information sessions at Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver to raise awareness and remove the stigma regarding the illness. So far, North Shore residents have been very supportive of the project, she said.
"People are just so happy to hear we are doing this," Savage said.
The ambulance service is equally excited to see the new building go up. Currently the service is housed in a converted residency located one block away from the hospital.
Having the station attached to the hospital will develop stronger partnerships, said Tim Philley, operations director of the B.C. Ambulance Service in the Lower Mainland. It also includes nine bays.
"It will become a permanent facility for us and a base of operations," he said.
The project incorporates the expansion of UBC's medical program, said Ross MacGillivray, the vice-dean of the university's faculty of medicine. The institution current has more than 1,000 medical students, he said.
"A very important part of this is that they are not all staff in Point Grey and Vancouver Hospital," MacGillivray said, noting students need hands-on experience in a variety of settings.
The North Shore mental health facility houses dedicated teaching space and video conferencing for students. Construction is expected to get underway in the summer of 2012, the the opening set for the end of 2013.