Geothermal test holes being drilled at PECMH site

Quinte Health Care is examining the porspects of Geothermal Energy Generation at the site of the new hospital. Pictured, from left at Friday's site visit are Lina Rinaldi, Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive, QHC; Sharon Morcom, Board Director, PECMH Auxiliary; Peter Reitsma, Driller; Mayor Steve Ferguson, Prince Edward County; Barbara McConnell, Board Chair, PECMH Foundation; James Hildebrand, Director of Capital Development, QHC; Stacey Daub, President and CEO, QHC; Nancy Parks, Campaign Co-Chair, PECMH Foundation; Todd Smith, Bay of Quinte MPP & Minister of Energy. (Submitted Photo)



Those closely monitoring the earth scratching taking place at the site of the new Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and expecting to see our great, new house of healing begin to rise from the sod should take careful note.

Excavation for the new hospital that will replace the current facility is still a couple of years away.

But there is activity happening at the site and Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith joined with Quinte Health Care officials Friday to examine the progress on testing that will indicate if the new PECMH can be successfully outfitted with a hybrid energy system.

The testing, undertaken by Geosource Energy, proceeds tendering and construction in order to determine if solar or geothermal generation can offset conventional sources. 

Geosource Energy is determining whether the site would be suitable for geothermal heating. The technology harnesses heat from the ground to create renewable energy.

From left James Hildebrand, QHC Director of Capital Development, Mayor Steve Ferguson and MPP Todd Smith

There are two types of geothermal technology – open loop systems, which use groundwater, and closed loop systems, which use heat from rocks buried deep in the ground. It has already been determined there is not sufficient ground water for the open loop system, but a closed loop system may be possible. 

To create closed loop systems, contractors drill deep holes into the ground. The holes are connected by a series of underground piping infrastructure. This week, crews will attempt to drill down 500 feet to determine soil and rock composition to determine the viability of the technology. Information from these test holes, each five-to-six inches in diameter, will help inform the tendering process.

“This hybrid energy project would help Quinte Health Care reduce emissions, boost energy efficiency and build a greener and healthier community for all to enjoy,” said Smith, also Ontario’s Minister of Energy. “Seeing these drills on site also provides confidence in the community that we will get this needed facility built.”

Lina Rinaldi, QHC’s Vice-President and Chief Nursing Executive, said the hospital considers sustainability and environmental responsibility priorities as it prepares design documents for tender.

“The new PECMH will be a modern place of care and healing for our patients, and a point of pride for our community and our hardworking team. As we consider the health needs of the community served by the new hospital, it’s crucial that our plan embraces sustainability and takes into account our collective obligation to the wellness of our environment,” she said. “Exploring the viability of a renewal energy source makes sense in the short term and for decades to come. The unwavering support from our partners, the Province and the Prince Edward County community continues to be a source of inspiration moving this project forward.”

Barbara McConnell said the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation is supportive of the

testing. The foundation continues to raise funds for the required community contribution to the project,

which will support the purchase of medical equipment needed to equip the hospital, and potentially fund environmental design enhancements.

“The possibility of a geothermal system will provide the new hospital with a low-energy, low-emission,

and sustainable heating and cooling source. Our small, but mighty community of supporters have proven that when we believe in something, like environmental sustainability, we will ‘dig deep’ to make it happen,” McConnell said. “Every day we see how our donors have a powerful impact on the way our hospital delivers care. Because of their support, we are now in the position where we can explore these sustainability options and work toward our new hospital having a zero-carbon footprint. We are looking at a bright future for the delivery of healthcare in our community and are well on our way to building a great hospital; potentially the first of its kind in North America. We are extremely grateful for our community’s continued support.”

The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital redevelopment moved into the final stage of a five-stage approvals process in April. In this stage, QHC can prepare detailed designs with cost estimates, finalize tender documents, tender the project and select a preferred vendor, and request a capital grant from the Ministry of Health for construction. Typically, this stage lasts 18-24 months, which would allow construction to begin as early as Spring 2024.