06/12/2012 03:12 EDT | Updated 08/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Upgrades planned for B.C.'s Royal Columbian hospital, but work still years away

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - The B.C. government has announced a major redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster but it could be years before any shovels hit the ground.

That's because the planning process has just begun and work on a business plan that will shape the overall scope of the project won't even start until next year.

Health Minister Mike de Jong made the announcement in New Westminster Tuesday, marking the 150th anniversary of the hospital and saying the redevelopment project could cost three quarters of a billion dollars.

The upgrades are expected to add hundreds of new beds to Royal Columbian, plus a larger emergency department, a new surgical suite and better organization of critical care beds.

De Jong says the Royal Columbian plan won't address immediate concerns about patient care in hospitals in the Fraser Health Authority, including patients being treated in hallways and outbreaks of stubborn infections.

So he's also ordering the health authority to take action in five key areas, including reducing hallway care and infection rates, and speeding up admissions to emergency departments and hip fracture operations.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version put the project cost at $250 billion, when it is actually $750