The city needs a new hospital, Mayor Jim Scarrow said, putting this need firmly in his campaign for re-election.
This, he said, should be a priority for whatever council comes out of the Oct. 24 election.
“These things take many years to come to fruition,” Scarrow said. “This is a hospital that needs attention, so let’s plan for it now.”
City council plays an important role in joining the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region in campaigning governments for this need, he explained.
Ward 2 councillor and mayoral candidate Greg Dionne said that a new hospital isn’t part of his campaign platform, and he’s surprised to hear it’s on Scarrow’s.
“It kind of floors me, because that’s the job of the health board, not the city or city council,” Dionne said.
“What shocked me the most about it is we just came through Pineview (Terrace Lodge), which was a struggle going through council with 20 per cent commitment that we must pay for any new medical facility.”
Prince Albert’s share of Pineview Terrace Lodge long-term care facility costs ended up coming to $3.34 million — $1.34 million covered by the Holy Family Trust Fund and the balance coming from a $27 residential base tax, and higher varying rate for commercial properties.
A new hospital would come at a much greater expense than the Pineview Terrace Lodge, Dionne said.
“I wonder how big that levy would be and how long that levy would be on our tax bill, and I’m just shocked by that statement,” he said of Scarrow’s campaign point.
Scarrow said that with the City of Prince Albert serving as gateway to both the north and south, the Victoria Hospital covers a region far outside of the city. This wide reach may factor into whatever funding formula that comes up, potentially lowering the city’s share, he reasoned.
With the Victoria Hospital as crowded as it is, Scarrow said that a brand new hospital is a much more viable option than renovating the current facility.
“I don’t know how you would ever slow down the operation for renovations,” he said, adding that patients coming into the hospital are there under immediate need and aren’t likely to be accommodating when it comes to renovations.
These things take many years to come to fruition. This is a hospital that needs attention, so let’s plan for it now. - Mayor Jim Scarrow
Mayoral candidate Dean Link said that while a new hospital would be nice to see constructed in Prince Albert, it’s not on his campaign platform.
Scarrow’s inclusion of a new hospital in his campaign is odd, Link said, because it is a health board and provincial government issue, not municipal.
“That’s certainly outside of our jurisdiction,” he said. “I wish he worked on all the infrastructure that we do control.”
Already in the works
The redevelopment of the Victoria Hospital has been a goal for a number of years, Prince Albert Parkland Health Region CEO Cecile Hunt said.
“The health region has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to determine the space issues at the hospital,” she said.
The health region received provincial funding a few years ago to help create a 3-D model and develop what steps need to be taken to finalize a redeveloped hospital by 2025.
Now, they’re awaiting another funding announcement to pay for a new architectural design process known as 3P — a lean means of architecture with as little waste as possible.
“We would hope that the Ministry of Health will make an announcement in 2013/14, but so far there’s been no announcement,” Hunt said.
“The Victoria Hospital is challenged by space. The number of patients our facility sees is increasing.”
The hospital’s obstetrics unit is a good example of the hospital’s overstretched capacity, with a recent average of 1,500 babies delivered in the unit per year, which is a significant jump from the 1,000 deliveries the unit was designed for.
With the proposed hospital redevelopment still in its earliest of stages, Hunt said that it’s too early to determine what kind of cost would be associated with the project, but that a 20 per cent local municipality and 80 per cent provincial share is the most recently used formula.