Both hospitals in Kitchener are starting to show their age with St. Mary’s hospital nearly 100 years old and parts of Grand River Hospital over 50 years old.

With the population the hospitals serve also aging – and growing rapidly - Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s hospital are starting the planning process for Waterloo region's new hospital.

“We see a growth of - a pretty significant growth - of our core population and about a 170 per cent growth of our population over 65 which is that population that really has higher needs when it comes to health care,” said Ron Gagnon, president and CEO at Grand River Hospital.

In the next 25 years, its anticipated two million people will need hospital services.

The two hospitals are laying out a proposal called “building the future of care together.”

The plan is a three-step approach that starts with building a new hospital focused on inpatient and acute care services.

“So a lot of the cancer services, the mental health services, the renal services, the cardiac services and a lot of the inpatient services in what I will call general medicine and surgical services, will all be a part of the new campus,” said Gagnon.

The location of the new hospital has not yet been determined.

“We will be engaging with our community partners around where the site will be located - there's been no decisions made at this point about the site,” said Sherri Ferguson, interim president at St. Mary's General Hospital

The second part of the plan proposes the current Grand River Hospital K-W campus shift focus to urgent and ambulatory care.

”Some of the ambulatory care, same-day services, will be the same-day surgical service, same-day diagnostic service,” said Gagnon.

The third component involves renewing Grand River Hospital’s Freeport Campus to make it a modern rehabilitation facility.

The updated sites will be used by both hospitals while allowing for growth.

“We're looking forward to enhancing our programs and certainly bringing in new services which range from neurology, which we're already starting to explore, as well as enhancing our vision care regional programs,” said Ferguson.

The next steps are to engage with the community, as well as health care providers including Cambridge Memorial Hospital.

From there, more detailed plans and proposals will be developed.

It's anticipated a project of this scope could take up to fifteen years to complete.

Earlier this year, the two hospitals were given a planning grant from the province to start exploring and expanding their facilities and building new ones