SaskBuilds will be taking the lead in moving forward Swift Current's new Long-Term Care Facility.
Last Thursday the province announced a P3 process would be utilized to develop Swift Current's proposed 225 bed long-term care facility which has long been explored as a replacement for the current three long-term care facilities operating in Swift Current.
Minister responsible for SaskBuilds Don McMorris, who is Saskatchewan's former Health Minister, is well aware of Swift Current's healthcare facility needs.
"It's much needed. I knew when I was the Minister of Health, I was in Swift Current and visited all the facilities and knew that they needed to be upgraded," McMorris said during a phone interview the day of the announcement.
Swift Current three existing long-term care locations range in age from 46 years to 55 years and they boast a total of 198 beds. The proposed long-term care facility will contain 27 additional beds while being situated adjacent to the Cypress Regional Hospital.
"I just know, as the former Minister of Health, walking through those facilities, they just absolutely need to be upgraded. And we're just glad we can start moving on it."
McMorris said the provincial government decided moving forward as a P3 through SaskBuilds was the best possible option for the Swift Current project.
"We believe that this is a good candidate for a P3. It makes sense, and we need to move forward on it," he said. "What it does is it captures some of the expertise from the private sector. The private sector will design, build, maintain, and fund this project. And we will simply buy it back from them over an agreed upon period of time."
SaskBuilds was created October 2012, and earlier approved projects being considered for P3 opportunities include the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford plus the Regina Bypass.
"Actually P3s are really quite new in Saskatchewan, the new version of P3s. Many other provinces and municipalities have entered into them but, formally as a government, this will be one of our first ventures into it."
McMorris said there is a real benefit in having private sector involvement through the P3 process.
"I think the most important is they really do take on the risk of the whole facility through the time of the agreement, including the design and the build. You know there could be quite large escalations in costs. We don't have to bear that as a government. That needs to be factored in by the winning proponent. Also issues on delays on construction. We get it at a certain time, and if we do not get that facility at the certain time there are extra penalties paid. So there are a number of benefits for government through the P3 model, most of which is it diverts the risk from government onto the private sector."
The province and the Cypress Health Region are expecting the P3 procurement process will begin in mid-August, while on-site work may begin as early as next spring.
"We really want to see construction start first thing, at least work starting first thing next spring. I know we had hoped that we could get it done before that, and we have mentioned before that we thought there'd be some ground broken 2013. I don't think we're going to get to that because on a P3, so much of the work has to be done up front on the agreements that are signed - such as a maintenance agreement - and all of that needs to be spelled out. And as a result it takes a little bit more time at the front end, but we think completion will be close to where we had predicted a year ago."
There has been three years of background work on the Swift Current's Long-Term Care Facility. In March 2009, the province provided $450,000 to the Cypress Health Region to initiate planning to replace the existing three long-term care facilities. In May of 2012, Premier Brad Wall announced that the project would be moving forward in the next phase of planning.
“The Palliser Regional Care Centre, Swift Current Care Centre and Prairie Pioneer Lodge have served our residents, families, and staff members for many years,” Cypress Health Region Board Chair Tyler Bragg stated in a press release. “But we are excited and looking forward to the planning and construction of the facility that will be designed around the specific needs of today’s residents and staff.”
The long-term care facility will be built on 15 acres of a 30 acre parcel of land owned by the Cypress Health Region that is adjacent to the Cypress Regional Hospital.
A press release announcing the project explained "Initial analysis indicates there is value for money with a P3 model for this type of project. If the value for money is not proven during the procurement process, the health region and province will consider other funding options."
Regardless of the procurement model chosen, the Cypress Health Region will maintain full ownership of the facility and will operate all aspects of the health care provided within the facility. Existing health region staff will provide services for residents and maintain the provincial standards and guidelines that have been set for long-term care programs and services within the province.
“Today’s announcement is another milestone that many people in our community and surrounding areas have been looking forward to for some time,” Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer stated in the press release. “By developing the project on a site adjacent to the hospital, educational, and recreational facilities, not only will there be immense efficiencies in operations but much greater programming opportunities.”
They will be now be going through a request for qualifications (RFQ) stage to shortlist potential project teams plus a request for proposals (RFP) stage. The capital construction cost of the facility will be determined through the competitive public private partnership bidding process.