Surrey: Canada’s Next Health-Care Hub?

Surrey health-care map | BCBusiness

B.C.’s life sciences sector is growing quickly in specific sub-fields: infectious diseases, neuroscience, oncology and regenerative medicine. Surrey’s 900 health-related businesses have garnered private-sector investment and a string of acquisitions. Just last April, LifeLabs Medical Laboratory acquired BC Biomedical Laboratories Ltd., the largest physician-owned and -operated laboratory in the province. Here’s the prognosis

The hospital had no choice. For the second time in three months it declared code orange—an alert usually reserved for earthquakes, pandemics and mass casualty events. But this alert wasn’t that catastrophic; the hospital was simply overcrowded.

Such was the state of Surrey Memorial Hospital in 2008. Five years later, B.C.’s busiest emergency room is at the epicentre of a $512-million expansion. The biggest investment in health-care infrastructure in the province’s history, it will become the crown jewel of a future health-technologies corridor along Surrey’s King George Boulevard—aptly branded as Innovation Boulevard.

Surrey has its sights set on global leadership in the medical technologies industry, attracting talent and private-sector investment on key sub-fields like neuro-technologies. Innovation Boulevard will integrate advanced research with front-line medical expertise, says Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, an SFU professor. But Surrey’s best bet on health-care spending might be on its own front step: the city is expected to expand by 250,000 people by 2030.

Completed in 2011, the $237-million Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre hosts 50 clinics and programs, including 10 procedure rooms and the first comprehensive HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C clinic in the Fraser Valley. The five-level, 188,000-square-foot facility received a $5-million donation from B.C. entrepreneur Jim Pattison.

2. A healthy economy
Surrey Memorial Hospital is the busiest tertiary-care hospital in the region with 6,000 medical professionals, including 350 doctors, serving 500,000 patients annually. The $512-million expansion is expected to generate 1,200 full-time jobs and $98.3 million in personal income in Surrey by 2014. Surrey’s health-care and social-services sector employs 18,730 people, or about 8.9 per cent of the city’s labour force.

The future comes first
One in five babies in B.C. will be born in Surrey this year. Housing one of the largest single-room maternity units in Canada, Surrey Memorial sees 4,200 births per year. The new Critical Care Tower will include a 48-bed neonatal care unit to help with the 500 premature births the hospital sees annually.

Prioritizing education
In 2012, Surrey Memorial Hospital became a clinical academic campus, able to host 30 to 80 medical trainees per month from medical students to doctoral fellows with advanced specializations. The new Critical Care Tower will expand the hospital’s teaching spaces, broadening its ties with the academic community. Together, UBC’s medical school, SFU Surrey and Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s nursing program send 1,500 students annually through stages, residences and internships at the hospital.

Extended reach
Surrey Memorial’s helipad will extend the reach of Fraser Health’s air ambulance service, covering critical medical emergencies from Burnaby’s Boundary Road to Boston Bar. Headquartered in Surrey City Centre, Fraser Health Authority covers all aspects of health-care services for the 1.6 million people living in Burnaby, the Tri-Cities, Surrey and the Fraser Valley.

3. Favourable demographics
Fraser Health is building capacity to serve another 200,000 residents over the next 20 years in a city that sees 1,200 new residents a month. Surrey’s population stands at 502,000 according to Surrey city planners, and with an 18.6 per cent growth rate between 2006 and 2011, it could take the title of B.C.’s biggest city by 2041.

4. SFU Surrey innovation
SFU Surrey makes up the north end of the Innovation Boulevard corridor, and has played an integral roll in attracting bio-medical talent and capital to the city. The campus hosts labs developing lung technology to improve recovery times for patients on ventilators, and a cutting-edge pain-studies lab that uses sound technologies to help chronic-pain patients.

5. A medical accelerator
Surrey will get its first dedicated medical-technology accelerator sponsored by the B.C. Technology Industry Association by 2014. BCTIA Centre4Growth will occupy the entire fifth floor of the City Centre Professional Building across the street from Surrey Memorial Hospital.

6. Fibre optics arrive
Surrey will install an ultra high-speed fibre-optic network down the King George corridor. Companies working with health records and imaging technologies need this infrastructure, especially as more enterprises turn to cloud computing, says Paul Geyer, CEO of LightIntegra Technology Inc.

Business support
The Surrey of Board of Trade sponsors monthly innovation roundtables sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to coach small-to-medium enterprises on product manufacturing and development, and to connect them with Surrey’s post-secondary institutions.

Full PDF of Surrey’s health-care map