It was great news for residents of the downtown eastside, Strathcona and east end … a new $1.9 Billion St. Paul’s Hospital will be built on Station St … east of Main Street and the bus/rail station on Terminal Ave.
As NDP Premier John Horgan announced, the new hospital will include 548 beds … 115 more than the existing site on Burrard … and will be completed by 2026.
But what Horgan did NOT mention is moving the hospital could place West End and Coal Harbour residents suffering from life-threatening heart attacks, strokes etc. at greater risks.
The drive … even in an ambulance with lights and sirens blaring … from Burrard to the new site will add PRECIOUS minutes until anyone from the West End or Coal Harbour makes it to St. Paul’s … with its state of the art cardiac unit and medical expertise.
I have absolutely no doubt that lives will be lost during those critically longer rides.
Anyone who tries these days to navigate the increasingly-congested wide avenues, confusing maze of one-ways, traffic-calmed arteries, closed former streets, bike lane narrowed obstacle courses through Vancouver’s downtown … knows full well that EXTRA time will be added, even by ambulance, to every trip from the West End to beyond Main Street.
St. Paul’s officials contend, however, the new site will offer a much improved Emergency arrival area and faster access to cardiac treatment … more than offseting any extra travel time.
Miriam Stewart, St. Paul’s Chief Clinical Planning Officer for St. Paul’s redevelopment also points out West End/Coal Harbour residents suffering strokes and other critical neurological emergencies will continue to be taken by paramedics to Vancouver General Hospital … as they are now.
Mark my words, though, that greater distance and longer drive WILL become an issue … possibly even the subject of lawsuits against the Province and Vancouver Coastal Health … when the West End/Coal Harbour lose their only acute care hospital and victims die en route, in traffic on their way to the further, new St. Paul’s.
Look at what’s about to happen …. because of the NDP’s decision:
The West End’s 2 square kilometres, with its population of 45,000 and still growing with each massive new tower going up, is reportedly already among the densest residential areas in North America. And a very high percentage of those living there are seniors, more susceptible to the critical emergency health threats where TIME is of the essence when urgent care is needed.
And don’t forget the additional 12,000 people now living in the adjacent … and also still growing … Coal Harbour area.
These areas … 60,000 people … a city on their own … will become the ONLY such highly dense urban area I know of anywhere in Canada or the US without an acute care hospital right in its midst! Not one!!
In fact, even SEPARATED from the closest acute care/trauma hospital by a huge congested downtown core … a concrete and steel wall through which traffic rarely moves well … and sometimes barely moves at all.
And a very high proportion of those living in the West End and Coal Harbour are seniors, more susceptible to sudden life-threatening heart health crises and where TIME is of the essence when urgent Emergency care is needed.
It is dangerous.
And it could … and probably will …. even be legally argued the Province and Coastal Health are negligent in taking away the only acute care hospital in the West End … leaving such a dense urban area and large population in a more precarious state.
The existing Primary Care Community Health Center on Hornby, which handles cuts, sprains, counselling, testing etc. just can’t and won’t cut it as a trauma center for anyone to bring in someone suffering with any critical injury or illness.
What makes the abandoning of the West End site even more questionable is that the downtown eastside, as well as the West End and Coal Harbour would ALL have still been easily accessible to a redeveloped , expanded and improved Burrard/Davie site.
And the Strathcona and east side already have easy, rapid access along major arteries to BOTH Mount St. Joseph Hospital on Kingsway and Vancouver General Hospital on West 12th Ave. … without having to traverse/navigate that concrete/steel central core.
Do they really need or deserve a THIRD acute care facility … two of them HUGE … while the West End and Coal Harbour have NONE???
St. Paul’s, as an institution, deserves NEW life, NEW funding, NEW expansion … but it should have and could have been done by redeveloping its existing site and the additional land and properties located along Burrard and Davie to the south.
But the NDP government has decided to push ahead with the move to the flats near the train/bus station.
Why is it going ahead now after 12 years of LOTS of questions and delays and despite the potential negative impact on the West End and Coal Harbour ?
I fear it’s mostly to benefit and cater to and cash in from land developers, who have long coveted the Burrard Street site, and also so the NDP can push its own political agenda … catering to the downtown eastside, Strathcona, Commercial and east end … over West Enders and Coal Harbour residents.
Even though some will pay with their lives.
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