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Photos: Community generosity the backbone of $37.5M Eagle Ridge Hospital ER expansion

The Tri-Cities population is still growing, official say, who are thankful more than 4,200 donors put neighbours' health first in the facility's latest upgrade.

More rooms, more equipment and more comfort for those seeking immediate medical attention.

And, according to local officials, the new emergency department at Eagle Ridge Hospital (ERH) would not have been possible with the greater Tri-Cities community.

Today (July 5), politicians and representatives of the Port Moody facility (475 Guildford Way) declared the completion of the $37.5-million upgrade — a two-part project that began in 2019, roughly 3.5 years after shovels broke ground.

To Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation chair Tom Morton, it's a feat unlike any other considering the tribulations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There was a level of nervousness that maybe we couldn't actually do it.... Our community did it faster than we thought," he said during the announcement, noting more than 4,200 donors — businesses and individuals — raised the $5 million the foundation needed to contribute to the project.

The rest of the funds came from the provincial government via Fraser Health at $32.5 million.

What's new?

ERH's new emergency space has expanded to 23,745 sq. ft.

That's three times larger than its former department, which only housed an area of 7,685 sq. ft.

There are also 39 new treatment spaces — an increase of 20 rooms from before — and is set to serve up to 50,000 patients a year in meeting the demand of the growing regional population.

When ERH opened in 1984, it took in as many as 20,000 people in a single year seeking emergency care.

As well, amenities included with the upgrades consist of four isolation rooms for those with infectious diseases, two resuscitation areas for trauma patients, a designated space for mental health and substance support needs, and separate entrances for ambulances and walk-in patients.

There's also a contamination station of hazardous materials and more handwashing stations, on top of all of that.

"People always visit emergency rooms under the worst conditions, and what they'll see here is more privacy for patients, better care for patients [and] less risk for health care workers," B.C. health minister Adrian Dix said to the Tri-City News, who took a tour of the new emergency room before going to the podium.

"[This is] an extraordinary site that was designed by and with health care workers with patients in the community. This is a spectacular achievement of a whole team here at Eagle Ridge and the whole team at Fraser Health."

During the pandemic, when the emergency room was full, some Tri-City residents had turned elsewhere for prompt healthcare, such as hospitals in Burnaby, New Westminster and Pitt Meadows.

With the expansion, Dix hopes those who need emergency services can now feel at ease when heading to ERH.

"That doesn't mean there wasn't high quality care before, but having your own special place as opposed to being separated by a curtain [...] this is an exceptional emergency room. And it's here because of the nurses and the doctors and contributors in the community who made it happen."

What's next?

Morton told the Tri-City News, regardless of how much a person donated, each is valued as the hospital continues to serve those who need it.

When asked if there are additional plans for ERH, he hopes the "next big thing" can start in the next couple of years.

"We would like to see continued evolution of the hospital and the facilities of the hospital and the services that are provided," Morton explains.

"But that is something that we have to do in conjunction with Fraser Health. We could go out and raise money for a particular piece of equipment or an MRI or something like that, but then it's Fraser Health that has to budget the staff and maintenance and everything else for that.... Our relationship with Fraser Health, I would say, is excellent."

The first phase of ERH's new emergency room was finished in September last year.

For more information on ERH's facilities and amenities, you can visit Fraser Health's website.

Also on site for the ERH emergency room completion announcement included Tri-Cities MLAs Rick Glumac (Port Moody–Coquitlam) and Selina Robinson (Coquitlam–Maillardville), Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee and Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov.