It is a monumental construction site. In Pontchaillou, you can’t miss the future “interventional surgical center”. Under construction for several months, the future central building of the University Hospital of Rennes currently looks like an impressive field of concrete foundations overlooked by three cranes. Hard to imagine that, by the end of the year, the six floors of the building will be erected. “The construction site continues without delay outside the two months of shutdown in the spring of 2020, assures Véronique Anatole-Touzet, director of the Rennes University Hospital. We should have completed all the structural work in 2022.” The building will house 240 rooms and 55 operating rooms, including 35 operating theaters adaptable to different specialties. A central point in the labyrinth that is today Pontchaillou: “What is missing on this site is to know where the entrance is”, recognizes Jean-Yves Gauvrit, president of the medical commission of the hospital.
Announced in 2017 by the mayor of Rennes, Nathalie Appéré, who officiates as president of the supervisory board of the CHU, the reconstruction of the hospital is obviously not suffering from the Covid-19 epidemic. If the nursing staff is exhausted, the construction professionals who intervene at their feet seem to be working in the right tempo. Note, however, that the bill has soared due in particular to the rise in the price of materials, bringing the bill to 765 million euros, against just over 600 million at the start. The State announced that it would pay 85 million euros to pay off the bill for this project described as “essential” by its management. “It’s essential, because some premises are no longer suitable and because our sites are too fragmented”, sums up the director.
“We could probably have closed fewer blocks”
To hear the practitioners, the Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the need to group the different sites. “We had real transfer problems because of the dispersion, assures Professor Gauvrit. If we hadn’t had these constraints, we would probably have been able to close fewer blocks. Transfers are difficult today, both for the staff and for the patients, who sometimes have to change buildings several times during their care journey.
By 2026, the “new” CHU will therefore host all the specialties which are now spread over ten different sites and require hospital staff to travel more than 300,000 km per year. The South Hospital and its maternity are concerned by this redevelopment which could make them disappear from the Blosne district. What will become of the old buildings? “We are currently discussing it with the city”, assures the director, who “cannot say more”. A good part of the 7 hectares of the site should be sold and will be used to finance hundreds of millions of euros for the new hotel. But a medical offer will be maintained in this district which is already sorely lacking.
On the Pontchaillou site, the first phase of work does not only concern the interventional surgical center. By 2026, the women’s and children’s hospital will be built there, as will the Eugène-Marquis cancer center. With a challenge: that of facilitating the movement of pedestrians, but also the impressive logistics of the establishment which employs 9,000 people. A center has been designed to facilitate the transit of medicines, food and laundry.
Dilapidated, the main building is probably living its last years. A time recorded, its complete demolition is now in abeyance. Designed in the 1950s, the concrete building will house units awaiting transfer to brand new premises. And after ? Mystery. Half of the existing buildings will be retained.