Health centre completion approaches

CEO for the health authority Al Woods says he is confident the plan for the transfer of patients, staff and equipment to the new hospital is a good one and hopes to have it completed by mid-December.

CEO for the health authority Al Woods says he is confident the plan for the transfer of patients, staff and equipment to the new hospital is a good one and hopes to have it completed by mid-December.

The new health centre may look done, but a spokesperson for the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority said there are still a few important details to be sorted.

“When you look at it, it’s totally done,” said CEO Al Woods. “If you took a walk in it like I have, you would swear it was, but it’s not.”

The finish date is set for December. Even though contractors are ahead of schedule, Woods said people have been asking for weeks when they will be able to see the new facility, especially since it looks done from the outside.

“They have a few things left to do that they just can’t do when we’re in there,” he said, explaining that contractors still have to deal with the air balance in the ventilation system and finalize a wrap on insulation in the mechanical towers. Other work, like checking that every electrical plug is in working order, can be done while hospital staff is in the building.

“The new estimation for what they call substantial completion is mid-September,” said Woods. “They had originally thought mid-August, but there is some work left to do.”

While it’s normal for some tasks to be left outstanding when the building is turned over, the delay is causing some inconvenience for authority staff and patients. The whole process will take about three months. The longer it takes to get the transfer started, the more likely it will be that staff will be moving patients in the winter.

“Obviously, moving people at -30 degrees isn’t what we want to be doing,” said Woods, adding that for the first two weeks, the building will be occupied by staff alone so they can learn the new systems. “Our target to start moving equipment and people is the beginning of October and we should be all in by December.”

One of the complications is the need for specialists from the south to calibrate special equipment and make sure it’s running to standard before it can be used for patients. Woods said those people are few and far between and need to be booked well in advance for trips to the North and that other things must be scheduled around this.

“There will be some inconvenience to patients,” he said. “For instance, when we move the clinic, the lab will still be in the same place, so if a doctor needs a blood sample, it will mean the patient has to come from the new hospital to the old location, at least for the first little while.”

That being said, there is a plan as to which departments will be moving over and in what order. The medical clinic will be the first patient service to move, and will then be followed by patients and staff from the hospital proper.

Human resources, finance, social services, public health, homecare and the environmental health officer will all be staying in the current building for two years at the very least. The long-term care wing will also stay in place until the expansions to Woodland Manor, the long-term care facility, can be completed.

“We’re confident in our plan,” Woods said. “Timing is critical for a lot of our scientific type equipment. It would be good to get all the acute care over by mid-November.”