DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The Dawson Creek Hospital project aims to provide Peace residents with access to a wide range of healthcare services.

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier says the new hospital will capitalize on some of the services not offered at the Fort St. John hospital, adding benefit to the entire region.

“When Fort St. John was getting a new hospital, the big discussion was about the two complementing each other, not competing against each other,” said Bernier. “One of the things we’ve always acknowledged, not every hospital can be everything for everyone.”

Mayor Dale Bumstead agrees with the idea of two facilities working to offer Peace region residents the best services with the available resources.

“It makes no sense to duplicate services in both communities, at the cost of all of us residents,” said Bumstead.

Of course, both hospitals will offer basic emergency wards, laboratories and diagnostics.

“There are some of those acute services that you need to be able to provide at both locations. Maternity is one example of that. An expectant mother in Tumbler Ridge needs to have access; they can’t deliver a baby in Tumbler Ridge or Chetwynd when they become complex,” said Bumstead

Making sure Peace region residents have access to healthcare is a balancing act of having the resources to meet the demand.

“The new hospital is going to have an expanded mental health wing because we are a bit more of the centre for some of the mental health issues and supports. If it’s an MRI, that’s up in Fort St. John; if it’s orthopedic surgery, that’s done in Dawson Creek,” explained Bernier.

Although construction is at least a year from starting,  Bernier says every step forward is a step closer to the finish line.

“It always takes longer than everybody wants on some of these projects. It’s still going to be another year while it goes through the drafting and architectural design process before they can officially put it out to bid,” said Bernier. “It’s all the behind-the-scenes processes that are required to make sure it’s the right project and best project we can get for the region.”

Bernier adds a new facility will help attract healthcare practitioners to the region.

“Hopefully, this will help the Peace region when it comes to recruiting doctors, nurses and technicians. We’ll have more reasons for those people to choose our region to work in new facilities.”

The current Dawson Creek Hospital has been operating for over 65 years, and Bernier says he will continue advocating for the new hospital project until it is completed.

“I’m going to continue pushing the government to make sure this is a top priority, that it doesn’t fall off the side of the desk, and that, working with Northern Health, we get the best possible hospital as soon as possible.”

On May 18th, the province announced the three companies that were shortlisted for the project.

The budget for the project is almost $378-million and will be shared by the provincial government through Northern Health. The Peace River Regional Hospital District will also contribute more than $150-million.