The most challenging part awaits as expansion plans for Delta Hospital are beginning to take shape.
"We have identified the renovation and expansion of both our diagnostic imaging and our lab services as our priorities," said Annette Garm, the hospital's site director, noting the next step is to determine the funding model.
"That's why we are getting kind of excited. We'll be able to come to some sort of funding agreement on how that can proceed as soon as possible."
Noting the availability of land isn't going to be a problem, she said the Ministry of Health, through Fraser Health, the Delta Hospital Foundation and Delta Hospital Auxiliary are the three partners that will make the new laboratory and medical imaging wing a reality. That first project is expected to cost millions.
"We're hoping to meet in the near future to discuss how we can forge a partnership to move this forward in the next two to four years," Garm noted.
According to the foundation, after the laboratory and medical imaging department expansion is complete, the medium term goals (five to 15 years) are to increase medical beds and grow surgical daycare as well as mental health programs.
One of the recommendations is the addition of a 25-bed psychiatric unit.
Long-term opportunities (20 years and beyond) are to develop new health care facilities as well as to upgrade residential care facilities.
Last year, Fraser Health launched a planning initiative aimed at determining what services the Ladner facility should provide as well as what building additions might be needed.
The Master Concept Plan is to provide direction over the next 20 years.
The Delta Hospital Foundation shared the cost of the planning exercise, which was completed earlier this year. Fraser Health and the Ministry of Health have since signed off on the plan.
"The Master Concept Plan is defining the role of Delta Hospital within the network of acute and community services within Fraser Health. We were trying to prioritize those service enhancements and required capital investments," said Garm.
In an interview last fall, Dr. Robert Shaw, head of internal medicine, said Delta Hospital also needs additional acute care beds, but there's only so much space available in the facility. However, there is enough land for potential expansion.
"I think if the site plan allows for us to have more room - mind you we're doing all this with two exam rooms and very often we're having two or three clinics at the same time we'd be able to invite more specialists to come here," he said.
Shaw pointed out Delta has a strong group of family physicians looking after their patients' care.
The Delta Hospital Foundation notes that in 2011, the hospital had 583 staff, 29,000 emergency visits, 42,000 diagnostic visits, 8,200 surgical cases, 7,000 ambulatory visits, 50 acute care beds and 30 specialized medical programs and services.
The foundation raised $1.3 million last year. The Delta Hospital Auxiliary also purchased hundreds of thousands in equipment, including a digital mammography unit.