West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni, B.C. (Google Maps)

The B.C. government says construction will begin in March to expand and improve the emergency department at Port Alberni’s West Coast General Hospital.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday that a request for proposals seeking a construction manager for the project was issued Thursday.

The $6.25-million redevelopment of the hospital’s emergency department will add three new patient exam beds, new ambulance entrances and a new seclusion room for emergency mental health care.

The redevelopment is expected to be completed by summer 2022, Dix said.

The emergency department saw more than 25,000 patient visits last year, according to Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne.

The project costs are being shared between the province, which is providing $2.55 million; the West Coast General Hospital Foundation, which has pledged $2 million; and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Hospital District, which will contribute $1.7 million.