Hospital on the move

photo courtesy of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority The front of the new Hay River Regional Health Centre, which will soon host the medical clinic after it moves from its current location off Woodlawn Drive.

photo courtesy of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority
The front of the new Hay River Regional Health Centre, which will soon host the medical clinic after it moves from its current location off Woodlawn Drive.

Hay River’s medical clinic will close for five days next week as the regional health authority begins a three-month move to the recently completed Hay River Regional Health Centre.

The medical clinic, at the corner of Woodland Drive and Gaetz Drive, will close Feb. 29 through March 4 as it moves across town to the new building.

During the closure there will be a doctor available for non-urgent care at the H.H. Williams Memorial Hospital, however the health authority is urging residents to “reconsider using our health services unless absolutely necessary.”

Anyone needing urgent care should go to H.H. Williams, said Erin Griffiths, the acting CEO of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.

It’s one of the first phases of a move that will see departments setting up shop in the new facility.

“We’ve been planning for this move since 2011,” Griffiths said, referring to when planning for the new building began.

The building, which cost $50 million and is roughly 40 per cent larger than the existing Woodland Drive buildings, was completed late last year but delays pushed back the two previously planned move dates.

The new structure has birthing suites with tubs for expectant mothers as well as ambulance bays. That means ambulances will go inside and a door will close as the patient is being moved from the vehicle to the hospital.

“It’s a really exciting time for us,” she said. “The staff are excited but yet a little anxious because it’s a major change in all of our lives and we have a lot of history at H.H. Williams – we’ve been here 52 years.”

While the move only formally begins at the end of the month, Griffiths said there’s already been plenty of activity at the new health centre since Jan. 4.

Staff having been moving furniture, installing equipment and testing various alarms and equipment. She estimates about 20 to 25 people are there per day. Once the hospital is fully moved, about 130 people will work there.

“Staff have taken the time, as each department, to establish patient flow,” she said. “The new foot print of the new facility is much different than H.H. Williams. So how we manage our patients and how we provide efficient service is going to be drastically changed in the new building.”

She said someone walking in off the street will immediately come to an information desk to direct them through the hospital.

After the clinic, the departments of rehabilitation, midwifery and administration will move. The final departments to make the switch will be emergency room, laboratory and X-ray.

The three-month schedule could be sped up depending on when new radiology equipment arrives.

The health authority has begun a publicity campaign to let the community know what is moving when and how services will be impacted.

Griffiths said regular updates will be posted to Facebook, the authority’s website and provided to media.

The medical clinic building, once empty, will be turned over to the GWNT.

The existing hospital will still house extended care beds until an expansion of Woodland Manor is complete.

As well, other uses of the facility will continue, such as the public health unit on the ground floor. Social services, home care, environmental health, finances and human resources will remain at H.H. Williams.

Griffiths said eventually the old facility will be completely emptied, though that’s likely to happen over several years.

“This building will eventually be completely empty. We’re looking at a two to three year process for that to take place,” she said.

–Shane Magee