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St Paul’s gets cash infusion

Money for elevator and electrical work on Burrard

St Paul’s Hospital will receive $17.2 million to replace aging electrical infrastructure and elevators, BC’s Minister of Health Mike de Jong announced Sept 22.

Following a temporary power outage in February, Victoria announced $1 million to go toward short-term remediation and the development of a business case for permanently upgrading the electrical system.

That upgrade is now slated to receive $12.5 million for work on generators, transformers, automatic transfer switches, switchgears and other critical electrical components. The hospital will also receive $4.7 million to upgrade its elevator system, de Jong says.

Some of those systems failed earlier this year, plunging the hospital into darkness.

“Today’s funding announcement of $17.2 million will ensure that patients and their families will continue to receive world-class healthcare at St Paul’s Hospital until the redevelopment gets underway,” the minister says. “Until then, it is critical to invest in making sure care is delivered in a safe and stable environment.”

Dianne Doyle, president and CEO of Providence Health Care, which operates St Paul’s, says the upgrades “are foundational to Providence’s planning for the hospital’s redevelopment.”

The 115-year-old hospital’s future had been in question since 2003, when Providence first mentioned its intention to build a new hospital on the False Creek Flats rather than renovate the existing site on Burrard St.

The plan was up in the air for years until June 3, 2010, when former health minister Kevin Falcon suddenly announced the project would proceed on the current site. De Jong confirmed that June 29, 2011.

Vancouver West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert says the funding is overdue after eight years of power outages and repeated elevator failures.

“Should I be elated over something that you should get in a hospital?” he asks. “I’m glad we fought for it.”

Chandra Herbert says he’s still waiting to see the long-awaited business plan for the hospital’s redevelopment.