Construction on expanded kidney care centre in Surrey to begin in August

Click to play video: 'Kidney care unit approved for Surrey'
Kidney care unit approved for Surrey
WATCH: A business plan has been approved for a kidney care unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital, but in an election year, that announcement is being met with criticism. Grace Ke reports – Jun 18, 2024

Surrey Memorial Hospital is getting an expansion of its kidney care unit and B.C.’s premier says construction is set to start in just over a month’s time.

At a Tuesday press conference at the hospital, David Eby announced a business plan has been approved for the $85-million expansion of kidney hemodialysis services and construction is set to start in August.

“This is good news for people facing the hardship of kidney disease that need this support regularly. It means less waiting time and more treatment,” Eby said.

The unit is planned to include 21 additional renal hemodialysis beds to treat patients with kidney disease, bringing the hospital’s total to 60. It is expected open for patients in 2025 to provide services seven days a week.

“The new unit is particularly important as we know that renal issues are one of the leading health issues in Surrey,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “Already, patients sometimes need to travel to other communities to get renal services.”

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Dix also hinted at more health-related announcements for Surrey Memorial in the near future, including more information next week on the new acute care tower, which was announced in March.

Click to play video: 'Business plan approved for kidney care unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital'
Business plan approved for kidney care unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Dr. Victoria Lee, the CEO of the Fraser Health Authority, says Surrey hospital conducts 42,000 dialysis treatments a year and the new beds will increase that number to 65,000.

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Chronic kidney disease in the Fraser South region has grown by 300 per cent two decades, according to Lee.

“About 1,000 people in the whole of Fraser Health region do require dialysis services,” she said. “Dialysis treatment not only prolongs your life but the joys of life.”

Between 2022 and 2023 Surrey’s population grew by 3.8 per cent, roughly 2,000 new people each month, according to Dix.

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The province will foot $84 million of the bill, while the Surrey Hospitals Foundation will pay the remaining $1 million.

Click to play video: 'Plan announced to turn ICBC headquarters into middle income housing'
Plan announced to turn ICBC headquarters into middle income housing

Eby and Dix also took Tuesday’s announcement to criticize the previous government and their political opponents for decisions made regarding health-care services in Surrey when they were in power.

Land set aside for a previous conceptualization of a second Surrey hospital in Panorama Ridge was deemed surplus and sold off a decade ago by the then-BC Liberal government. At the time of the sale, now-BC United Leader Kevin Falcon was serving as finance minister.

Falcon has previously said the site was scrapped because it wasn’t accessible and maintains the redevelopment of Surrey Memorial was in the region’s best interest.

However, Eby was also questioned regarding the timing of the kidney unit news, and other spending announcements so close to October’s election. On Monday, the province announced the former ICBC headquarters in North Vancouver would be converted into homes.

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“I will not say to the people of Surrey that we could start construction of the renal centre in August but we’re actually going to push it to November so we can announce it after the election because that service is needed now,” Eby said.

“And I won’t look at an opportunity like the purchase of the ICBC building to build housing for British Columbians to say, ‘Oh, they’re selling it at the wrong time.’

Surrey is set to be a major political battleground this election, with 10 seats, including a new riding, up for grabs in the fastest-growing region in the province.

— with files from the Canadian Press and Simon Little

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