UWindsor, WRH discussing Health Innovation Park near new hospital

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An ambitious plan is being discussed to develop a Health Innovation Park next to the future Windsor-Essex Acute Care Hospital.

Windsor Regional Hospital and the University of Windsor are in the early stages of discussing a potential partnership for a place on the future hospital land at County Road 42 and the 9th Concession.

It's anticipated that the Health Innovation Park will include a dedicated space for research and training, expanded government and private sector health service providers and collaborations and space for business to assist in research.

Dr. Wassim Saad, Chief of Staff at Windsor Regional Hospital, says it is ambitious but this is the time to do it.

Saad says in order to attract people, you have to have that physical infrastructure to be able to attract them.

"People can be brilliant and want to advance science, culture and do great things, but they will be attracted to laces that already have it established or are growing it. That's just a fact," he says.

The vision could also include hotel space for short-term accommodations, residential housing for staff and students, a long-term care facility, a wellness centre and professional medical office space for health care providers.

Saad says a campus for students enrolled in the University of Windsor's Schulich School of Medicine is being discussed as part of that feature.

"The vision is to have housing and accommodations for many of these travelling students and residents who come form out of town and can stay in the area to be close to like-minded people to collaborate," he says. 

While it's too early to estimate a cost for the proposed project, Dr. Saad says this would not be part of the Capital Budget planning for the new hospital, it would have to be funded separately.

"Part of this money is likely to come from the two organizations partnering toward this, but a lot of this may have to come from private industry, from business, from government," he says. "That's part of the reason why it's going to be collaborative and include everybody to try to advance the vision we have for it."

Preliminary planning also includes discussions about the creation of a "livable and vibrant" work area surrounding the new acute care hospital which will support healthy community living, and the development of open green space for trails that will be engaging for the community.

It is expected that the timing of the Health Innovation Park opening will coincide with the opening of the new hospital.

The hospital project was included in Infrastructure Ontario’s May 2022 Market Update announced May 3, indicating the tendering process will start in early 2025. Construction on the $2-billion hospital is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2027 and it's anticipated to be completed in 2031.