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RVH unveils ambitious plans for potential $3-billion expansion

'It's a plan for the near future and for decades to come,' board member says during presentation about moving to two-campus model

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) has simply run out of room, operating at a daily occupancy rate higher than 115 per cent. There have even been days when the north-end hospital has reached 135 per cent. 

Last year, that meant more than 3,000 patients received care in hallways, quiet rooms, temporary surge units and windowless, makeshift spaces, RVH president and CEO Janice Skot told city council this week.

"As you can see from the numbers, RVH today is big, it's complex, it's very busy and it's a regional health centre logging over 576,000 patient visits every year," Skot said. "That's 1,500 people a day receiving care at RVH."

With explosive growth expected in the next two decades, the Barrie area's population will be equal to London, Ont. That includes a projected 268,000 in Barrie alone by 2041, as well as 75,000 in the Innisfil area and 28,000 in Springwater Township for a grand total of 371,000, according to numbers included in RVH's presentation. 

RVH is working toward an integrated, two-campus model, which remains in its early stages.

Substantial growth is expected at the Georgian Drive site, such as a new nine-storey tower with more than 800,000 square feet of new space, as well as expansions to Rotary Place cancer care and inside the exisiting hospital.  

"Since we last spoke to you early on in the planning process, RVH's vision has evolved significantly, especially our approach to redevelopment of the Georgian Drive facility," said Jason Teal, with RVH's board of directors. "RVH's plan will ensure residents will receive health care they need and deserve as the city continues to grow.

"It's a plan for the near future and for decades to come," he added. 

RVH is also looking at five potential areas for its southern campus, including the Highway 400 corridor, south-Barrie/north-Stroud, south-Stroud/Yonge Street corridor, south-Alcona, and around the 6th Line and Yonge Street.

Officials are anticipating a south-campus health hub in 10 years. Post-acute inpatient beds at the south campus are expected to be up and running in 15 years, with a full hospital in the south end of the city or in Innisfil in 20 years. 

The Rizzardo Centre for Health and Wellness recently opened in Innisfil, offering some RVH services. 

Officials have submitted to the province their pre-capital submissions, which will be followed by a full proposal, functional program, preliminary design, working drawings, and then implementation.

Construction of the combined RVH projects is expected to be somewhere between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, depending on when work begins. To put that in historical context, it cost $125 million to build the hospital in 1997, with an additional $450 million to double it in size several years ago. 

By 2026, RVH officials plan to have 472 beds with the additional of 91 beds at the north campus. By 2030, that could be augmented by the south campus to increase the total number to 626 beds, and then 943 beds combined by 2040. 

RVH officials also have to take into account an aging demographic. Within 25 years, Simcoe County is expected to have more than 107,000 seniors, representing 27 per cent of the local population.


Annual budget: $366 million
Patient visits: 474,000
Emergency visits: 89,000
Cancer vists: 82,600
Surgeries: 15,300
Employees: 2,500
Births: 2,000
Volunteers: 750
Physicians: 440

Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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