Health centre ahead of schedule

photo courtesy of Robert Hawkins Daryl Dolynny holds up the floor plan for the new hospital.

photo courtesy of Robert Hawkins
Yellowknife MLA Daryl Dolynny holds up the floor plan for the health centre.

Although Hay River Health and Social Services staff had planned to begin moving into their new digs spring 2016, it’s now looking like they could be moving in earlier.

“Construction is ahead of schedule,” said authority CEO Al Woods, noting that this has not been his experience, generally speaking. “There is some thought that it could be ready by summer 2015, and we could be in as early as that fall.”

After construction is complete, however, there is a battery of tests to be conducted in the new facility before it’s ready for staff and patients. Not only do all building functions need to be checked, workers need to test equipment like washing machines and food services appliances.

“Commissioning takes some time and is very important,” said Woods.

The CEO also noted that it will mostly be health services staff who will be moving into the new building, with an alternate space for the authority’s administrative staff, plus different spaces for other departments including home care and social services, which have yet to be found. He suggested the current facility would be kept running at least a year after patients and medical professionals move to the new building.

“There’s also the plans to maybe attach it to (long-term care facility) Woodland Manor and make up the 10 new beds there that way,” he said. “But that has yet to be decided and we don’t know how long it would take anyway.”

A Yellowknife MLA who toured the new Hay River hospital last week says the facility is very impressive.

Robert Hawkins, MLA for Yellowknife Centre, said there is still a lot of work to be done before the hospital is scheduled to open to the public, but he said it appeared to be shaping up nicely.

“I was surprised at the size of the building,” Hawkins said. “It’s much larger than I had anticipated.”

Hawkins took the tour with several other MLAs last month while they were in Hay River for a caucus retreat.

“We had to don hard hats and work boots as it is still very much a constriction site in progress.

But we got to see several areas where work continues including the dialysis and surgical units,” Hawkins said. “It’s a beautiful facility. It’s going to be a tremendous step up from the existing hospital which was getting really tired,” Hawkins said. “People here should be exceptionally proud of the new hospital. I’m sure the new facility will serve the community well for decades to come,” he said.

Construction continues on the new building, with mostly interior work left to be done.

“They’ll be working hard,” said Woods. “They’re going to turn the heat on in there and be working all winter.”

-Written by Sarah Ladik with files from John McFadden