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Island Health provides update on $60M ICU replacement at Nanaimo hospital

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Island Health is providing more details on a long-awaited replacement of the intensive care unit (ICU) at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH).

Construction of the new ICU began in early 2021. At the time, the province said a new, permanent, high-acuity unit (HAU) would be part of the project.

On Thursday, Island Health said the new HAU would include 12 beds, an increase from the eight beds that are currently set up at the temporary HAU at NRGH.

The HAU will also include a nurse station and several "support spaces," such as a medication room, family consult room, washroom and utility room.

"The temporary HAU at NRGH was integral to Island Health’s COVID-19 response," said Island Health board chair Leah Hollins in statement Thursday.

"The new, permanent HAU will increase capacity and be equipped to provide patients with higher level, dedicated, specialized care that will help save lives and support the complex care needs of our population," she said.

The new ICU coming to NRGH has room for 12 beds, up from the 10 beds included in the current ICU, which was built in the 1970s.

The overall floorplan for the new ICU is also three times larger than the current one.

Island Health adds that the HAU can provide ICU-level care if there is an "influx of patients" that require intensive care.

ICUs are used for patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, according to Island Health.

Meanwhile, HAUs are used for care that falls between an ICU and a general hospital ward. Patients at an HAU are given acute care and more closely monitored compared to a general ward, but require less resources than an ICU.

"A new HAU, along with the new ICU currently under construction, will help ensure people with critical and acute conditions in the Nanaimo area can receive the care they need, when they need it," said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan in a statement.

The new ICU is expected to open in June. The new HAU is expected to open in September 2024. 

The original budget for construction of the new ICU was around $41.5-million. Construction of the HAU is expected to cost another $18.5-million, bringing the total project cost to around $60-million, according to the province.

Funding for the project comes through Island Health, the Nanaimo Regional Hospital District and the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation.

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