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.

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.

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.

What’s Up @ WLMH: April 2020

Projects continue during COVID-19 response

Teams across Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) have worked hard to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following provincial direction, this includes decreasing outpatient care, diagnostic services and non-emergency surgery, combined with moving as many non-acute patients as possible to community settings to free up hospital beds.

WLMH has played an important role in this COVID-19 capacity planning and preparations while maintaining important acute services for patients and the community. Staff and physicians have demonstrated flexibility, resilience and professionalism during this evolving situation. 

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, progress continues to be made on infrastructure projects and new hospital planning. 

Designing a new WLMH

While staff, physicians and hospital leaders continue to focus on the response to COVID-19, plans remain on track to meet government submission timelines.

HHS’ Capital Planning team continues to work with Infrastructure Ontario, Ministry of Health, consultants, and other partners, to advance plans for the new hospital.  As soon as it is safe and practical to do so, staff and physician user groups will come together to provide input on key components of the stage 2 submission. The ongoing leadership provided by provincial and local government partners to support this work is appreciated.

Contractors hitting milestones

Visitor restrictions in the hospital have impacted some internal work associated with infrastructure projects. However, outside the building, contractors are reaching project milestones, including:

•    Commissioning the cooling tower 
•    Completing the wiring needed for the second generator
•    Planning for lab upgrades
•    Laying the concrete pad for the operating room(OR)/endoscopy area air handling unit, to be delivered on May 1, 2020. 

Work also continues with the contractor to review and adapt plans for renovations, including OR and endoscopy.

CT scanner selected 

The clinical team has completed the review process to select the type of CT scanner that will best serve the community. A consultant has been hired to design the space for the machine and work continues to move forward. Once plans are approved by the Ministry, and other infrastructure and OR renovations are complete, construction for the CT scanner suite will begin.

Thank you for your support!


We’re so grateful for our supportive community which continues to stand with our staff and physicians during this challenging time. 

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.