Case Studies

Vishaal Dasoar – Vancouver Coastal Health

Dignity, comfort for Vancouver’s vulnerable

On Vancouver’s West Side, there’s a revolutionary concept for caring for some of the most vulnerable Canadians. A monument to such progress is depicted virtually behind Vishaal Dasaor as he meets with Blueprint this past October through Microsoft Teams.

He can take much credit for that monument becoming a bricks-and-mortar reality. The pandemic notwithstanding, the six-story Dogwood Lodge Complex Care Home was completed more or less on schedule earlier this year, with the first 83 residents moving in on Sept. 6 amidst festivities attended by the provincial minister of health, Adrian Dix. There being accommodation for 150 long-term dwellers, the remainder arrived by late autumn.

What an upgrade this is from their previous place of residence, Dasaor says. It’s not that their previous place, a smaller facility to be demolished as part of a master plan, was substandard. It’s just that Dogwood will offer so much more to a mostly older constituency, many of whom have critical needs. Dasoar, emphasizing how everyone deserves to live in dignity and comfort, says Dogwood should set a high benchmark.

Dogwood, he explains, is as much about hospitality as health care. The design includes six neighborhoods, each with homes, where 14 residents share a common dining room and living room and have private bedrooms and bathrooms. Every home has access to outdoor space, and residents enjoy meals created on-site, with a choice of traditional Canadian and authentic Asian cuisine.

It’s a more homelike setting with flexibility for the future, Dasoar says. This enables residents to receive the support they require as their needs change. There’s a long-term care home developed in collaboration with the Dogwood Family Council and the Vancouver Seniors Advisory Committee that reflects best practices for neighborhood models and priorities for access to outdoor spaces, privacy rooms, small homes and in-home dining.

“The overall development speaks to our progressive approach toward caring for the elderly and infirm,” Dasoar says. “It’s a model of care with a homefield feeling.”

Getting it in place took some doing.

Taking charge

An Alberta-born and educated mechanical engineer with an MBA, Dasoar had been a senior project manager for the Fraser Health Authority, which, like Vancouver Coastal Health, is one of five regional bodies entrusted with British Columbia’s health care.

In 2019, the province “repatriated” its healthcare workers, calling the thousands working for private companies back to the public system and requiring each health authority to assemble its own project management team. Around this time, Dasoar moved from the Fraser organization to Vancouver Coastal to direct real estate as an ambitious mixed-use master plan with Onni commenced.

Much of what’s now Cambie Gardens is complete, with commercial properties and condos complementing the Dogwood facility and the ambiance enhanced by shared greenspace and the Vancouver skyline.

Dasoar’s role included much negotiating and relationship fostering, he having arrived when the contract with the design-builder had yet to be complete. Soon after he helped seal that deal, COVID-19 had him dealing with supply chain disruptions and daylong shutdowns when a hard hat tested positive.

“We managed the costs quite well by striking deals with builders to prioritize delivery and production,” he says. “The building took a little longer than originally planned, but we got it done, and at the same time and parallel, we found sites for COVID testing and vaccination.”

Then there was Vancouver Coastal Health having to follow a provincial mandate for opening urgent care centers to relieve some of the burden off hospitals besieged with COVID cases. Dasoar leasing sites in nearby Richmond and Vancouver’s North Shore, a couple of such centers were operating with others to follow.

Dasoar’s engineering background proved beneficial, and he developed standards that allowed the urgent care centers to treat patients more efficiently and with increased access to imaging equipment and labs. It’s all part of his greater role in real estate, a responsibility that Dasoar seems uniquely qualified.

Mind for mechanics

Engineering and medicine appealed to Dasoar as he grew up in Edmonton, one of two sons of an Indian couple that had immigrated separately to the Alberta capital before meeting and marrying. While his brother opted for architecture, he majored in mechanical engineering as a University of Alberta undergrad, knowing how it could be applied to almost any industry.

He honed his skills during stints with Emerson, WorleyParsons and Jacobs before becoming a project engineer at Stantec from 2012 to 2015 and, with his employer’s support, earning an MBA while enrolled in night courses at the University of Alberta. Afterward came one year as project manager with WSP, a Vancouver-based engineering consultant. Since 2017, he’s been with the provincial health authorities, first with Fraser and then Vancouver, and this seems to be his preferred role.

“Project management in health care has given me experience in many issues that can arise,” Dasoar says. “Archaeological findings, legal disputes, negotiations, operational implications in design changes. Through this experience, I’ve delivered a higher level of service.”

That savvy is sure to be put to further use, as there’s a growing and graying population in Canada’s westernmost province, and Vancouver Coastal Health is counted upon to serve the most populous area. Its services include primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary care, home and community care, mental health services, and preventive health and addiction therapy, and the organization needs the appropriate facilities.

While Dasoar is less about capital projects and more about strategic vision, each side complements the other for the delivery of health care. His vision fast-tracked the development of urgent care centers and moved Dogwood out of construction limbo.

There’s more to do at Cambie Gardens, including staff housing, and more projects will be in the rest of Dasoar’s jurisdiction.

But he balances work life with family, Dasoar being a father to sons ages 7 and 11. Both boys are budding basketball players, and their dad relishes time on the court with them. He’d like Vancouver to regain an NBA team, its Grizzlies having fled for Memphis, Tennessee, in 2001, long before his sons were born.

NBA or not, Vancouver’s become an agreeable home for Dasoar and his family, coastal British Columbia spared the harsh winter of the central Alberta prairie and there being so much to do on the job front, which suits him fine.

“I’ve always had a passion for the medical field,” Dasoar says. “This is my place to be for the long run.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. I 2024 Edition here.

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