Opening day still months away Grande Prairie council updated on hospital status earlier this week

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The pressing question on Grande Prairie residents’ minds is still missing a definitive answer.

Dawn Miller, the senior development officer for the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation, provided several updates on the new hospital to Grande Prairie City Council at Monday’s meeting.

“Opening day is the question at the top of everyone’s minds.” Miller said. “We are not sure exactly of the date just yet, except to say it will be in late fall. Originally, we were planning on opening in June of this year, but those plans were delayed for a good reason. Once phase one of construction was completed, work on phase two was approved and is in full swing right now. Phase two includes the surgical inpatient rooms on the first floor, the adult mental-health wing, as well as building out the additional two operating rooms that were initially shelled in.

“We are very excited about the completion of these areas, so when the new hospital opens, it will not be a construction site anymore. This also allows the foundation to provide additional support with the purchase of equipment that will enhance or provide a new service that may not exist right now.”

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The additional two surgical suites will provide more services to women along with enhanced surgical treatment.

“With additional surgical suites opening we have the means for additional enhanced surgical treatment for cancer diagnosis for women with suspected breast cancer, uterine cancers and infertility, improving diagnosis and treatment for women in Grande Prairie,” Miller said. “Enhancing this service will also save patients and families the cost to travel to Edmonton to obtain the service.”

Multiple teams of people are currently installing furniture, equipment and testing systems to get the building ready for use,

“I was there a couple of weeks ago, and the CT scanners have just been installed, the radiation units have been installed in our radiation vault,” MIller said. “(The foundation purchased) Omnicell Medication cabinets, which are installed in the (medication) rooms throughout the hospital. These units ensure the patients are getting the correct medication, the correct dosage as well as ensuring that no medication goes missing.”

The new emergency department has 50 treatment spaces — almost double the current space at the QEII–with the larger area providing more space for each patient, allowing privacy for outpatients in treatment chairs.

“One area that is expected to see growth in the future is the outpatient department,” Miller said. “This is an area in health care that will continue to grow as instruments become smaller and less invasive. More and more procedures will become part of the outpatient department moving forward, and it is an extremely large area.”

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The new hospital would require 1,300 people to staff it, not including doctors.

“With 1,300 people working in the facility, I don’t know what that equates to in regards to the total number of new jobs,” Interim Mayor Jackie Clayton said, noting there will likely be positive economic spinoff provided in the community and the region.

The hospital would be acute care in nature, while the QE 2 will transition into a more extended-care facility for those requiring placement in other regional facilities. Offices from various Alberta Health Services branches, currently spread throughout the city, will also be centralized there.

“Although it is disappointing the hospital won’t be opening this summer as originally thought, it is good news to hear that when it is open, more will be completed than originally planned,” Clayton said, “This project has been long in length, but it has also been vast in the scale of the project in itself.”

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