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Editorial: How long will we have to wait?

An editorial on the progress on the new nursing home project.
Estevan Regional Nursing Home photo
Estevan Regional Nursing Home

Slowly but steadily, we’re seeing progress towards a new nursing home in Estevan.

It’s just it’s hard to justify slow and steady to people who have been waiting for the facility to be constructed.

The local nursing home committee has received funding from the provincial government in the past two provincial budgets. Not a lot, mind you, but some support. And the two sides continue to meet, with the most recent session happening in mid-November.

The government has been intent on having a needs assessment completed, even though the local committee had one a few years ago, and you have to wonder how much this one will differ from the previous version.

The good news is the new nursing home committee will be part of the consultation process for this new assessment. They had to be included. After all, they have dedicated so much time and research to this project, and they know what needs to be done better than anyone else. Their vision needs to be incorporated.

But it’s just another delay in a process that has been filled with waiting. 

It’s been more than 15 years since the first meetings were held to bring a new nursing home to Estevan. At the time, we knew that we needed a new building, because the current one was outdated. And it was going to take a while before a new nursing home was constructed and ready to care for our elderly people who deserve to live in a modern facility for their final years.

In 2011, the Hearthstone Community Campaign was created. Thanks to the incredible generosity of so many individuals, businesses, organizations and even municipalities, the campaign reached its $8 million goal in January 2015. It took less than four years to reach the objective and to enter the queue for a new long-term care facility.

We knew that it would take a little while for the province to proceed with the project. We didn’t expect it would take six years to allocate the first funding.

Granted, the government went through a considerable plunge in revenues due to the crash in the price of oil that started in the summer of 2014, just months before Hearthstone reached its goal. Had the economy remained at the level it was at in the spring of 2011 when Hearthstone was first launched, the government would have green-lighted this project years earlier, and it might even be completed by now.

And Estevan was not at the top of the list for new long-term care facilities when Hearthstone reached its goal. It’s kind of troubling that there have been facilities in worse shape than the Estevan Regional Nursing Home.

For those who donated to this project, thinking it would be completed within a few years of their contribution, the wait has been tough. They want to see their support come to fruition.

For those in the nursing home, with family members in the institution, or those whose family might be in the nursing home eventually, the waiting has been even worse.

And the wait is going to continue. Construction isn’t going to begin the week after the needs assessment is complete. There are still a lot of hoops to jump through before the first shovel is in the ground. And it’s going to take a long time to finish the building and have it ready for those first tenants.

It’s frustrating for the staff, too, because they aren’t able to provide the level of care that they want or expect. Most of them are great, but they can only do so much in an antiquated facility.

You hope that the waiting game is going to come to an end as quickly as possible. And one day, we can look forward to celebrating the completion of this facility and the residents and staff having the building they deserve.

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