Reflecting on a remarkable year

What a remarkable year 2020 has been.

As a global pandemic took hold in the community, our team at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) has shown incredible resilience and dedication to keep the hospital open and our patients safe.

Inside the hospital, we’ve invested heavily to upgrade the aging mechanical systems to make the building safer, until we can open the new one. The most significant safety upgrade at the site occurred in the operating rooms and endoscopy reprocessing area. Our site team and the contractor worked tirelessly during the surgical shutdown that occurred in response to the pandemic in order to renovate and reopen the operating rooms on time.

We’re also further down the path than ever before to rebuild WLMH. This year started with the government approving a detailed service plan for the new hospital, which meant we could start designing how those services will function in a brand new building. At the end of October, that plan was sent to the Ministry of Health for review. We’re now looking for a team to design and build the future hospital. This project is moving at unprecedented speed. Our goal is to keep it going.

Through it all, our community, neighbours, families, patients, staff, physicians, volunteers, partners and donors have stood beside us. We thank you for your unwavering support and generosity this and every year. Because of you, WLMH’s future has never been brighter.

On behalf of Hamilton Health Sciences, we would like to wish you a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

HHS starting process to find build team for new WLMH

The redevelopment of West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) is taking another step forward as Infrastructure Ontario and Hamilton Health Sciences start the process to find a design-build team for the project.

Issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) is the initial opportunity for prospective teams to express their interest in bidding for the construction contract.

The RFQ process narrows down the list of teams to those who have the design and construction experience, as well as the financial capacity to deliver a project of this size and complexity.

Shortlisted teams will be invited to respond to a request for proposals, or RFP, which is expected to be released mid-2021.

“This is a significant milestone toward redeveloping West Lincoln Memorial Hospital. In less than a year, this project has progressed from initial planning stages to finding a builder for the new hospital. We’re thankful for the ongoing commitment of our government partners, the community and our team who keep this project on track and moving quickly toward the finish line.” Rob MacIsaac, President & CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences

“This is great news for the continued progress towards the new hospital the residents of Grimsby and West Niagara deserve. Because of the tireless efforts of so many within the hospital and broader community, the new hospital has moved forward rapidly, and I am confident we will see shovels in the ground as soon as possible. We can’t forget, this started back at square one in 2018, and the project has seen remarkable progress in two years. My thanks goes to all the citizens, frontline workers, administration, and advisory groups that have been involved in this process. This step is good news towards the selection of the construction firm which will build this hospital. I will keep working with our local community to make this happen.” Sam Oosterhoff, MPP, Niagara West

Services are coming back, baby!

This week, the initial plan to resume obstetrics services at WLMH was shared with site staff and physicians.

Starting January 12, 2021, mothers in labour will be able to deliver their babies from Tuesday morning until Friday afternoon at WLMH. Births outside of these hours will be delivered at another nearby hospital. Those details are still being worked out and will be shared as soon as they’re confirmed.

The service resumption will be assessed on an ongoing basis to determine if and how it can be sustained and expanded. Factors which will be considered include the availability of staffing and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the community. The goal is to build the service up to provide as much coverage as possible, as long as its sustainable from a staffing and resourcing perspective to do so.

“Obstetrics services at WLMH are very important to families in West Niagara, and it is very good news that safety upgrades at WLMH funded by the Government of Ontario will enable the program to continue. We’re grateful to our staff and physicians who have made this program resumption possible, and to our partners for their support during this period. Recruitment is ongoing for additional operating room staff needed to expand the services in a sustainable manner,” said Dr. Michael Stacey, EVP Academic and Chief Medical Executive, Hamilton Health Sciences.

Obstetrics services offered at WLMH were temporarily redirected earlier this year to allow for critical safety upgrades in the site’s operating rooms. Functional operating rooms and sufficient operating room staffing are required to provide a safe environment for after-hours and overnight births, in the event that emergency surgical procedures are needed during a delivery.

Scheduled c-section births have been taking place at WLMH since the operating rooms reopened in September.

Ten things to know about the Stage 2 submission

The last seven months were a whirlwind for those involved in WLMH rebuild planning. But, we got the Stage 2 plan done and sent off to the Ministry for review and approval…ahead of schedule!

It’s not a final document until the Ministry approves it, so we can’t say too much at this point. Though we’re too excited not to share some information about the plan. Here are 10 things to know about the WLMH Stage 2 submission:

  • The Stage 2 plan is submitted as part of the Government of Ontario’s five-stage process for building a hospital, with Infrastructure Ontario estimating construction on the new WLMH to begin in 2022.
  • The Stage 2 plan is based on planning details set by the Ministry about the services to be included in the new hospital. The Ministry of Health will make the final decision to approve or request changes to the plan.
  • The submission is not publicly accessible until the Ministry’s final approval is provided. This is anticipated early in 2021.
  • The submission includes:
    • a detailed list of the spaces within the new building;
    • a simplified “block planning” of how those spaces may be configured within the new hospital;
    • a site plan showing elements like parking, site access, landscape, etc.;
    • a list of all furniture and equipment needed for the facility;
    • and, a preliminary cost estimate.
  • Based on Ministry specs to assure accessibility, infection control and service delivery, the proposed hospital will be almost double the size of the current hospital – from 65,000 sq. ft. to roughly 120,000 sq. ft.
  • Approximately 150 staff members from across WLMH and HHS contributed their experience and expertise to this planning. This was on top of their daily duties of providing or supporting the delivery of excellent patient care. We’re incredibly thankful for their efforts to get this done. Particularly because…
  • Stage 2 planning kicked off the week before COVID-19 started showing up in our community. Almost every meeting was done virtually, but the stakeholder engagement was equally as robust as in-person sessions. “We got great questions, ideas and comments in all of our user group meetings. The engagement got even better as we progressed through the process. This was new for all of us, but it was a robust experience and that’s definitely reflected in the final plan,” said Bart DeVries, director of redevelopment.
  • The plan proposes to build the new hospital behind the existing building. Once the new hospital is open, the old hospital will be demolished. This will create a substantial set back from the street to the front door allowing for landscaping and additional parking. The details of what this looks like will be developed in Stage 3.
  • The plan includes four operating suites which is twice the number at the current WLMH. This is consistent with the Ministry’s direction, meaning more people can receive the surgical care they need at WLMH.
  • The plan includes space for a multi-faith room, where patients and families will be able to go for a quiet moment of reflection when they need it. The current site does not have a similar space.

    Want more content on the WLMH rebuild? Here’s the most recent video in our series with WLMH leaders involved in the rebuild, talking about what we’re planning and what we can expect moving forward.

We’re digging all the progress at the site!

You may have noticed a drilling rig on the WLMH property recently. “Geotechnical drilling” is a normal part of the process for infrastructure development. Essentially, the team is taking underground samples to get a sense of the soil type and bedrock depth. This will help when determining the best type of foundation for the building. They also installed ground water monitoring wells to understand the ground water conditions, including its purity and flow.

This drilling will likely continue for the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, no dinosaur bones have been found during this process…yet.

Launching new expert video series

Building a hospital is not an everyday experience for many people, including those of us who work in the hospital! It comes with a whole bunch of lingo, jargon, phrases, acronyms and processes. Luckily, we have experts on our team who can clarify some of this information so we’re all on the same page about what’s happening in the rebuild.

On that note, we’re excited to share with you the first video in a series that we like to call, Ask Bart Anything. To kick it off, we ask about the Ministry of Health’s 5 stage planning process.


Much ado about (WLMH rebuild project) costing

Last week, Infrastructure Ontario (IO) released its fall Market Update report. The report reiterates the government’s commitment to rebuild WLMH, which we completely expected, but it’s always great news regardless. (The WLMH rebuild project has been included in IO’s updates for almost two years.)

The report, however, noted for the first time that WLMH project is now included in the “$200 – $499 million” budget range, which is an increase from the “less than $200 million” budget range we’ve been working toward. This change on paper has encouraged some excitement in the community and beyond.

We asked our WLMH redevelopment lead for his take on this development.

“I get the excitement about this project, we’re really excited too,” said Bart DeVries, HHS director of redevelopment projects. “Based on my experience with large scale infrastructure projects, this is to be expected. It’s important to note that this development doesn’t mean there have been any significant changes to our planning. The difference between the previous budget range [<$200M] and the new budget range [$200M-$499M] could technically be $1. At the end of the day, the market will dictate what the true value of the project will be and that’s still a little way down the road.”

Budgeting for large, public-private partnership (P3) projects is a complex process with many moving parts. Ultimately the goal is to get the best value-for-money spent.

“The budget refinement process will continue as we proceed through Stage 3 toward construction. We’re still working under the original budget assumptions, which is the prudent approach. We’ve hired our costing team who are experts in budgeting for projects of this size and scope. They will tell us the anticipated project cost based on our requirements, which will be kept confidential and used to inform our plans. The private-sector teams bidding on the design-build contract for the hospital will include their project cost in their bids, which will also based on our requirements. Once a winning bid is selected by IO and HHS together, we will release the fixed-price contract value,” DeVries explained.

Many elements can influence a change in project budget, such as cost and availability of construction materials, labour and skilled trades. Time tends to drive the cost of the required elements up higher so planning needs to account for that possibility. It’s also wise to include contingency for unexpected costs, especially given the impacts the ongoing global pandemic is having and will likely continue to have on supply chains.

“These are the types of things we have been planning for since we started Stage 2 and why we always build contingency in to our projected budget,” he noted.

In terms of WLMH project timelines, we’re aiming to submit our Stage 2 plan to the ministry by Hallowe’en. The Request for Qualifications, which is the initial call for teams eligible to deliver the project, will be posted later this fall. Teams prequalified through this process will be named in early 2021, and invited to respond to a Request for Proposals later in the year.

Local leader to head up rebuild project

Hamilton Health Sciences recently made a big hire for the #newWLMH team. Grimsby-resident Bart DeVries is coming on board as our Director of Redevelopment Projects and is taking the lead on the rebuild. Here’s a little bit about Bart.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

BD: I grew up in Beamsville and live in Grimsby. I was born at WLMH, as were my seven children. I’ve been in the redevelopment and project management field for the last 17 years, working both locally and nationally. I’ve worked at HHS for a few different periods throughout my career.

What hospital development projects have you worked on previously?

BD: I’ve had the opportunity to work on a range of development projects, from small to large-scale, both at HHS and as a consultant. Between 2012 and 2016 I was the Senior Project Manager for the development of the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre in Hamilton. I led the project from planning to close out and I’m proud to say it was delivered ahead of schedule and on budget. I’ve also spent some time working at Colliers managing teams of equipment consultants on projects across Canada. In this role I will be working on other HHS projects in the future as well.

What is your role in building the #newWLMH?

BD: Going forward, I’ll be responsible for the overall management and execution of the project. This means managing internal and consulting teams throughout planning, design, construction, and occupancy, while being a main point of contact for our partners at the Ministry of Health and Infrastructure Ontario. Myself and our team of internal staff will be responsible for making sure this project is successful and I know we’re up to the challenge. I’m very familiar with HHS and P3 methodology, so this project is a natural fit.

What does building a new WLMH mean to you?

BD: This new hospital will be the largest single piece of infrastructure ever delivered in this community. The scale of the project is exciting and so is being part of the process of bringing it to life. Also, the community has been behind the project for a long time and has been very patient waiting for this to happen. This motivates me to get it right and I’m excited to be able to execute this project on behalf of the community. When I get involved in a project, I put everything into it and I get very passionate about my work. As mentioned, I have a number of personal connections to the hospital and I’m glad to be part of this next chapter of WLMH’s story.

Fun Fact: Bart’s father, and more recently his brother, have managed landscaping at the WLMH site since the 1980s.

Parking Lot Resurfacing – Final Phase

The parking lot at WLMH is being resurfaced as part of the regular maintenance schedule to support safety for everyone. Last fall, the initial phase of this work was completed. The next and final phase is the repair and resurfacing of the main parking lot. This work will begin on May 4, 2020 and take place Monday to Friday between 7 am and 5 pm. Weather permitting, work may also occur on some weekends. During this phase, additional lighting will be installed to enhance staff safety. Access to the Emergency Department and designated pedestrian entrances will continue.

All Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) parking infrastructure, including the WLMH parking lot, is managed by the Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) Volunteer Association (VA). The HHS VA funds all necessary parking lot repairs and maintenance. The resurfacing project is 100% funded by the HHS VA.

Thank you for your patience while this work is being completed.

What’s Up @ WLMH: COVID-19

We are taking precautions at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) to ensure the safety of our staff, physicians, patients, families and community. More information related to COVID-19 is available here:

Hamilton Health Sciences hospital information

Niagara Region Public Health
Hospital access

Visitor guidelines have changed and we have moved to a no-visitor policy with very few exceptions. Based on these guidelines, infrastructure work at WLMH, with the exception of some limited outside work, has been placed on hold. 

Patient care

 The Ministry of Health has mandated all health care facilities to postpone all non-urgent elective activity, including surgeries and non-urgent clinic visits.

Some patients receiving non-urgent scheduled care may access care by phone or virtually

Elective surgeries are being postponed and perioperative services at West Lincoln are temporarily closed. This will support additional patient care capacity and availability of health care professionals in the weeks ahead.  West Lincoln patients requiring urgent surgical procedures will receive care at the appropriate alternative hospital.  Patients will be notified by their surgeon if their surgery is deferred. 

Planning for a new WLMH

The Capital Planning team continues to move forward with planning for the new WLMH. Kick-off meetings took place earlier this month. Work led by non-clinical team members continues to move ahead. We remain committed to moving forward, recognizing COVID-19 presents an evolving situation and patient care requirements remain our top priority. 

Follow us on social media

We’re sharing timely updates and shareable content on our social media channels, like this “five small acts” campaign, which is linked at the handles below.
Twitter: @HamHealthSci
Instagram: HamiltonHealthSciences
Facebook: @HamHealthSci

About COVID-19

The 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) causes a respiratory infection and spreads mainly from person to person. Those with a weakened immune system are more at risk, which may be the case for older people and those with chronic diseases. The first presumptive case of this infection in Ontario was identified on January 25, 2020. Since then, the World Health Organization has characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. We are taking precautions at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) to ensure the safety of our staff, patients, and community.

More information related to COVID-19 is available here:
Hamilton Health Sciences hospital information
Niagara Region Public Health

For ongoing updates, follow Hamilton Health Sciences on social media:


Planning team hits ground running

And we’re off!

It was a packed meeting room at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) on Thursday afternoon with staff, physicians and hospital administrators ready to roll up their sleeves to dig into the next phase of planning for the rebuild.

The gathering was a kick-off session to introduce experts from RPG Inc., who will lead us through creating a “functional program” for the new hospital.

“This is a very important step in the redevelopment process. It’s critical that we have the right people around the table to provide advice, ask the right questions and make sure we create the best program for the new hospital. The team from RPG has tremendous experience working with hospitals across Ontario and we’re glad to see so many of our staff and physicians wanting to get involved,” says Kelly Campbell, HHS vice-president of Corporate Services and Capital Development.

The functional program will include details about the programs and services in the new facility, as well as describing workload, equipment and operational processes. This will be done through 19 unique “user groups” made up of hospital staff and physicians over the coming weeks. User groups will focus on matters in specific clinical services and departments, like emergency care, diagnostics, obstetrics and more.

Creating best practices for new hospital

A significant part of this phase is understanding current patient care and work flow practices and creating the best processes for the new hospital.

“We’re excited to get going on this project. We know the hospital and community have been waiting a long time for this and we’re pleased to be part of the process. It’s encouraging to see the momentum and support around this project,” said Chuck Wertheimer, senior principal at RPG Inc and project lead on the WLMH rebuild.

In addition to all of the community, hospital and government leaders’ support for the project, the ministry is giving HHS a unique exception to fast-track the planning process by overlapping some parts of Stage 2 and Stage 3 work.

“This is not business as usual and we’re very pleased to see this flexibility. It will, however, mean a lot of work needs to get done in a shorter time frame which will require a focus and extra efforts from the user groups, the hospital and our team. I know that we’re all up for the challenge,” said Wertheimer.

The functional program will also profile design and spatial requirements, a project budget and a project schedule which is looking to be submitted to the ministry by early fall 2020.

Hospital and community members who want to stay up-to-date on WLMH developments can subscribe to our newsletter.

New WLMH feature sheet and Ministry approval letter posted

Planning for the new WLMH is moving quickly, so we pulled together a short document to highlight the key features which will be in the new building.

This information is taken from a few sources, most importantly the letter from the Ministry of Health granting us approval to move forward to Stage 2 planning (and here is Infrastructure Ontario’s 2019 Market Update).

Readers are welcome to share this document with your friends, families and networks. Please also sign up for our monthly newsletter which will include important updates like this as we continue moving toward a rebuilt WLMH.

What’s Up @ WLMH: January 2020

Stay in touch! Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest WLMH news, updates and progress towards building the new hospital.

Designing the New Hospital

The Government of Ontario approved the next step toward rebuilding West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH). The new hospital will include in-patient care, an emergency department, maternal and newborn services, day surgery, endoscopy, diagnostic services and ambulatory services.

Detailed plans are being created and will be complete by fall 2020 or sooner. Everyone is working to get shovels in the ground as quickly as possible. Get the full story.

Operating Room Renovations Are on Time

Work is underway to fix the operating rooms (OR) and endoscopy area to meet all required safety and infection control standards. Here’s what’s happening:

Completed work:

• Design work is done
• Hazmat assessment is done
• Documentation submitted to the local Building Department

Next steps:

• Start construction in spring 2020
• Complete construction through the summer
• Re-open the operating rooms in the fall

Hiring Nurses

There is a nationwide shortage of OR nurses, so we are training our own to help increase the number of OR nurses at WLMH. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) will pay and train 4 successful nurse applicants to gain the special skills needed to work in the operating room.

Completed work:

• Program designed and supported by the nurses union
• Positions listed and interviews underway

Next steps:

• Complete selection process
• Training will start February 2020

Another milestone achieved toward a new hospital for West Niagara

The Ontario government has given Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) the green light to proceed to the next step (Stage 2) toward building a new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH).

The new hospital will include inpatient services, an emergency department, maternal and newborn services, day surgical services, endoscopy, diagnostic services and ambulatory services. Regional healthcare services such as cancer and cardiac care will continue to be provided at other hospital sites.

“On behalf of Hamilton Health Sciences, I’d like to thank everyone in West Niagara for continuing to highlight the need for a new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital,” says Dr. Michael Stacey, executive vice president, academic and chief medical officer at HHS. “It is through the efforts and hard work of so many including provincial government and local leaders that this milestone has been reached.”

In the new year, HHS will build on efforts already underway to complete the Stage 2 planning process. This will include the selection of an external team of experts to help develop plans for the new hospital. Based on earlier work, and with support from hospital staff and physicians, a Functional Program will be created for the new hospital. The Functional Program will include details about the programs and services in the new facility, as well as describing workload, equipment and operational processes. The Functional Program will also profile design and spatial requirements, a project budget, project schedule and the local share financial plan.

Planning will continue to move ahead as quickly as possible and updates will be shared as the work progresses.

Update: Operating Rooms and Endoscopy Reprocessing Area

In October 2019, HHS received funding approval from the Ontario government to redevelop West Lincoln Memorial Hospital’s (WLMH) operating rooms (OR) and endoscopy reprocessing area in order to meet critical standards for patient safety.

We are moving forward with these important renovations with a targeted completion date of September 2020. Until that time, access will continue to one OR at the hospital. Our goal is to finish these renovations as quickly as possible to minimize disruption for patients, staff and physicians.

To expedite these renovations, we requested and received permission from the Ontario Ministry of Health to have the construction contractor who is currently working on other infrastructure projects at WLMH to undertake the OR and endoscopy redevelopment. This important step eliminated the lengthy procurement process normally required and has fast-tracked the project by approximately twelve months.

Key project stages include development of designs to support the permit process, equipment specifications for custom pieces, and construction. Below is an estimated timeline for the project, which is subject to change and dependent on factors outside our control, such as the timely delivery by third party suppliers of custom equipment or other supplies purchased for the project, such as the air handling units and custom-cut stainless steel installations.

TaskEstimated Timeframe
Predesign and building systems auditOct 14 – Nov 1, 2019
Design approval and development; identification of equipment requirements; hazardous material assessmentNov 4 – Nov 29, 2019
Document submission for Building Dept. AmendmentDec 2 – Jan 10, 2020
Final pricing by the contractor (Merit Contractors Niagara)Jan 13 – Jan 30, 2020
Shop drawing development and approvalsFebruary 1-29, 2020
Construction (Note – construction start will depend on air handling unit delivery for both the infrastructure project and Endoscopy/OR)March/April–Sept 2020

Questions and Answers

Why will this project take ten months to complete?

The project requires several custom items to be designed, built and delivered, the longest lead time being the air handling unit which takes a minimum of 16 weeks from order to delivery. Exhaust fans and OR scrub sinks will also take between 10 to 12 weeks to build and ship. These production timelines are consistent across the industry for units of this size. We remain in close contact with the manufacturer and the contractor to make sure that we can continue to expedite where possible and be ready to install when the units arrive.

Below is a list of long-lead items required for this project:

Air handling unit – minimum 16 weeks
Exhaust fans – 10 to 12 weeks
Stainless steel height adjustable counter – 8 weeks, once shop drawings are approved.
Endo pass-thru window – 8 weeks, once shop drawings are approved.
Doors, frames and hardware – 4 to 6 weeks, once door & hardware schedule is approved
Hand washing sinks – 4 to 6 weeks.
OR scrub sink & faucet – 10 to 12 weeks

How does this fit with the other infrastructure projects underway at WLMH?

Work is underway on our existing infrastructure projects. The contractor will coordinate the scope of work between the existing projects and the OR and endoscopy renovations, while taking every effort to minimize disruption for patients, staff and physicians. Current work underway includes the removal of the chimney, electrical work for new emergency generators and the installation of a cooling tower.

Update about critical infrastructure project at WLMH

While we work towards a new hospital, this project will help us continue to provide a safe environment for everyone until the new hospital is ready.

Current work includes:

• Removal of chimney to accommodate the new boilers and mechanical components
• Electrical work for new emergency generators
• Installation of cooling tower
• Updates to front wing corridor including lighting and fire alarm devices and installation of new ceiling tiles.

Thank you for your patience and support while these critical issues are being addressed.

Resurfacing of Parking Lot

The parking lot at WLMH is being resurfaced as part of the regular maintenance schedule. The work is being done in stages to allow for continued access to parking spaces and should be completed by mid-November. Access to the Emergency Department is not affected and all pedestrian entrances remain open.

All Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) parking infrastructure, including the WLMH parking lot, is managed by the Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) Volunteer Association (VA). The HHS VA funds all necessary parking lot repairs and maintenance. The resurfacing project is 100% funded by the HHS VA.

The new hospital will be situated primarily behind the current building footprint. The existing parking lot will continue to be used for public parking in support of the new hospital, once it is open.

Thank you for your patience while this work is being completed.