NS to expand medical facilities in Halifax area
December 21, 2022
HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia government is preparing an ambitious healthcare infrastructure plan that will add more beds, operating rooms and emergency departments across the Halifax Regional Municipality, but it comes without a final price tag or even a cost estimate.
Premier Tim Houston (pictured) announced the much-delayed redevelopment of the Halifax Infirmary would proceed as a public-private partnership with PCL Plenary Health, but the work – which will include a new emergency department – would be staggered to get the most urgent portions done sooner.
“Nova Scotians deserve better than to be told to wait a decade or more,” Houston told CBC News. “That’s not good enough for them and it’s not good enough for me.”
Houston said the new plan would reduce construction timelines for some work while addressing needs not included in the original QEII New Generation plan. Despite being announced in 2015, Houston said the original plan was 10 years away from being completed.
Along with the new emergency department, the infirmary site will be getting 72 more in-patient beds than originally planned and 16 new operating rooms, four more than originally planned.
The infirmary will still house a new cancer centre, but initial construction at the site will focus on the new operating rooms, in-patient beds and other critical care services.
In total, projects announced would add 423 beds to the system in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Along with the work at the Halifax Infirmary, officials announced plans to expand the emergency department at the Dartmouth General Hospital and spend $13.9 million to buy the East Coast MediCenter Building, home of Scotia Surgery. The province has a partnership with the private clinic in Dartmouth to perform certain surgeries.
There are also plans to expand the Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville, adding a site on adjacent property owned by the province to create 36 in-patient beds where right now there are none. The emergency department there will also be assessed for expansion or replacement.
The government will build two transition community centres with the intention of moving people who are unnecessarily occupying acute care beds in hospital to a more appropriate level of care before they can return home or be placed in a long-term care home.
“It will alleviate not just [pressures in] our emergency rooms but may also alleviate some pressure in our long-term care facilities as well,” said Health Minister Michelle Thompson.
One of those sites will be built next to the new outpatient centre in Bayers Lake. The government will spend $2.5 million to buy land from Banc Commercial Holdings. The other site, also to be located in HRM, has yet to be finalized.
Other projects announced Thursday include expanded mental health and addictions services at the site of the Nova Scotia Hospital, a new heart health centre, a new rehabilitation and arthritis centre, and a new home for the Mackenzie lab, a site that has been plagued with problems for years.
The work will be staggered and stretch to 2037 and beyond.
Houston said the cost of the work would be “in the billions,” though he does not have a full estimate yet.
“We’re not trying to save money on healthcare. We’re trying to get it right,” he said. “Whatever it costs, it will cost. We’re going to get it done.”
CBC News reported earlier that government estimates for the Halifax Infirmary redevelopment, which at the time did not include a new emergency department or as many beds and operating rooms, was $2.8 billion. Adding the new work at the infirmary, along with all the other projects announced Thursday, will push that number much higher.