AFTER years of planning and a massive fundraising effort, Lions Gate Hospital has finally broken ground on its long-awaited psychiatric centre.
Construction of the $62-million facility officially got underway Thursday at a ceremony attended by staff, media and local dignitaries. The 150,000-square-foot complex, dubbed the HOpe Centre after a major donor, will house a 27-bed inpatient psychiatric unit, a UBC medical school facility and nine ambulance bays on the southeast corner of the Lions Gate campus.
It will replace the 83-year-old Activation building, which has long been criticized as inadequate for the proper treatment of patients.
"This new facility will make a vital difference in the lives of people struggling with mental health challenges," said Wendy Hansson, regional chief operating officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, in a release. "It will have a positive impact on patients, families, staff and physicians on the North Shore and in the communities we serve throughout (the coastal region)."
The HOpe Centre project was announced in September 2010 with a pledge of $38 million from the provincial government. Since then, the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation has been scrambling to raise the remaining funds required to get it built. Over the past two years, the charity has pulled in $24 million from some 5,000 donors, according to organizers. It was helped in its efforts by some hefty contributions, including $10 million from Greta and Robert Ho - the centre's namesakes - and $4 million from philanthropist Djavad Mowafghian.
The facility is expected to be a significant step up from its dilapidated predecessor, which patients have described as cramped and foul smelling, and where as many as 15 people share a single toilet.
Construction should be complete by the end of next year and organizers say the centre should begin admitting patients in early 2014.