By Вen Li
The University of Calgary may house the new $200 million Alberta Children’s Hospital intended to replace the existing 48-year-old facility. According to the Calgary Regional Health Authority, sites in five communities were short-listed, including the U of C’s West Campus, Foothills Hospital, the former Motor Vehicles site on Bowness Road, Fire Park and Lincoln Park.
The first three sites are of particular interest as they are located on or near the U of C campus.
"We’re quite interested in exploring [these] options," said U of C Executive Director of External Relations Stu Reid. "It’s possible that a new Children’s Hospital could contain some new classrooms [and] space for related academic programs."
Aside from new teaching facilities and programs, several existing programs could also benefit from a nearby Children’s hospital.
"I think there’s tremendous potential to have a greater integration of the hospital and the university’s Faculty of Medicine," said CRHA Vice-president of Communications Roman Cooney. "[There is] potential to have a closer partnership with Nursing, Kinesiology and Social Work."
Researchers from those faculties and others who are already involved with the Alberta Children’s Hospital or Foothills Hospital could receive additional benefits from the new facility.
"Building the Children’s Hospital close to the university means that we’ll be able to capitalize on research facilities already in place [and] put in some new facilities that will greatly complement these," said Reid. "For [researchers], a great convenience is in being able to incorporate their clinical work close to their lab and research work."
The convenience of location for the researchers may inconvenience local communities.
"We’ve made a commitment to consult with all of them over the next few months and give them detailed responses to their questions as they come up," said Cooney. "There certainly will be questions about traffic and access."
Officials from at least one community are already in discussions about the new hospital.
"We have a representative, Craig McDougall, who is meeting about once a month [with the university]," said University Heights Community Association President Robin Randers. "If that site is chosen, we would meet with our community."
The community, CRHA and the university will be working together to address concerns about the potential hospital site.
"Because we only have a certain amount of property for campus, we’ll want to explore what we might be able to get in a tradeoff for the land and future considerations," said Reid. "The city’s growing around us and we want to make sure that we have sufficient land for our growth in the long term."
Both the U of C and the CRHA stress that plans for the Alberta Children’s Hospital must be taken in context.
"It’s very early on in the process," said Cooney. "The site selection committee has made it clear that they will look at any site that meets [their] criteria."
"There’s all sorts of potential there, but we haven’t begun that discussion yet," said Reid. "We’re just starting the exploratory work."
"We hope to build not only a hospital but a child health network," explained Cooney.
According to the CRHA, the Alberta Children’s Hospital served 42,000 patients last year, and demand for hospital services is expected to increase.