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New Pugwash hospital needs timeline

Commentary with Geoff deGannes
Commentary with Geoff deGannes

Nova Scotia’s Health Department is facing a monumental challenge in the months and years ahead of replacing aging infrastructure in this province and nowhere has the need been more clearly evident than at the Victoria General Hospital’s aging Centennial Building in Halifax.  

It has been at the top of the province’s capital priority list. In view of that hospital’s pressing need, there were concerns that the health care infrastructure demands of rural communities would be relegated to the back burner.
One community, in particular, has been waiting patiently for over a decade for replacement of its aging facility.
Governments under three political stripes have made overtures to the people of Pugwash that their time was coming and residents of the area were growing weary of the parade of politicians and their broken promises. So last week’s firm commitment from Premier Stephen Mc Neil that a new facility will become a reality sooner rather than later was certainly welcome news.
The North Cumberland Memorial Hospital has gone well past its expiry date. The existing 50 year-old facility is a split-level building with no elevator. There is no central air conditioning system, the washrooms are not wheelchair accessible and there is no ambulance bay, which means transfers of patients must occur outside in all types of weather.
The Premier told the community during his stop in the village that a design consultant will be in place by mid-summer and the province will work with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to have a final design in place by next spring so construction can begin in the fall of 2018.
The new facility will include primary health care as well as urgent and collaborative emergency care, laboratory and diagnostic imaging, inpatient care and rehabilitation services. Some may view the announcement skeptically as another pre-election goodie, but it is a good news story nonetheless.
The local ad hoc committee in Pugwash that has worked tirelessly on this project should be applauded for their dogged determination and area MLA Terry Farrell should take some credit for his lobbying efforts with his provincial colleagues and the Nova Scotia Health Authority. He was instrumental in bringing health authority CEO Janet Knox to Pugwash to personally assess the community’s infrastructure needs.
Providing a rural area like Pugwash with an aging population with a modern health care facility with technological advancements makes good economic sense and it offers an added incentive in the process of recruiting health care professionals to rural Nova Scotia.
The hospital committee’s job is far from over and you can expect they’ll be more than vigilant in ensuring the project timelines remain on course.
 

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