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Estevan's new nursing home committee receives business plan

Document provides a detailed look at the potential location, size and cost of the new Estevan Regional Nursing Home.
Estevan Regional Nursing Home
The current Estevan Regional Nursing Home. File photo

ESTEVAN — The provincial government has provided the new Estevan Regional Nursing Home committee with the business plan for the long-awaited building.

The two sides met Friday afternoon. Among those present were Estevan MLA Lori Carr, Minister of Rural and Remote Health Tim McLeod, and representatives of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and SaskBuilds and Procurement. Emmanuel Health was also present. Location, building size and cost were among the topics covered.

According to Carr, the business plan suggests having the new nursing home on an undeveloped parcel of land to the west Sister Roddy Road, across from St. Joseph's Hospital, as the cost would be lower and there would be more room for outdoor amenities.

"A parking lot wouldn't be an issue," said Carr. "Of course, there's limited space over at the hospital."

The Sister Roddy Road site would have room for future expansion, optimized traffic flow, facility delivery, supports and more. Carr pointed out SaskBuilds views this as the preferred option.

"The purpose of this meeting was to hear from the committee and see what they thought of those options," said Carr.

She recognizes there would be benefits of having the building attached to the long-term care area of St. Joseph's Hospital, which has long been the expectation. 

"At the end of the day, we're going to look at all of the factors, what comes into play, and cabinet will make that decision," said Carr.

During a meeting between the two sides last May, the government revealed it was looking at a much larger project than before. The new nursing home committee had wanted to construct a 70-bed nursing home to replace the existing Estevan Regional Nursing Home. There are 38 more beds in long-term care at St. Joseph's Hospital, for a total of 108 in Estevan.

But the government is now calling for 167 long-term care beds in Estevan. It has yet to be decided whether the new nursing home would have 129 rooms to complement the 38 at St. Joe's, or if it would have all 167 beds for Estevan. 

The government is looking for more feedback on location. New nursing home committee chairman Don Kindopp said that if they go with the 167 beds in one facility, then the undeveloped area west of St. Joe's would make sense. If they decide to retain the current beds at St. Joe's, then he believes the hospital grounds would be a better fit. 

Kindopp said he has some concerns with the undeveloped location west of the hospital for ease of accessing services at St. Joseph's Hospital, in terms of x-rays, CT scans and more.

"There are some workarounds for that so that if space is provided in the new structure, a lot of the bloodwork and perhaps doctor visits can be done within the new facility and not have to cause the patients to cross the road over to St. Joe's," said Kindopp.

"If it comes to that, those are pleasant problems to have and to work out and to come to a solution that is best for … the elders in the new nursing home."

The project is now expected to cost more than double the initial projected amount of $40 million. It's hard to know exactly how much it will cost until it gets to the design phase, but according to Kindopp, it could be more than $100 million.

"That's due, probably, to two factors. One is the inflation caused by the delay in actually building. And the other factor would be that we're increasing the total project by 59 beds," said Kindopp.

The new nursing home committee created the Hearthstone Community Campaign in the spring of 2011 to fundraise for the new nursing home. Hearthstone had a goal of $8 million, which was the required 20 per cent of the forecasted price tag. A celebration for reaching the $8 million objective was held in January 2015, but it took more than six years before the government committed money to the project in 2021.

The committee has received nearly $1 million in donations since January 2015. Now that the project is to cost much more, the committee will have to go back to the community to raise 20 per cent of the new cost, although Kindopp noted construction can start without the remaining funds.

"We have a commitment that it will proceed regardless of whether we have the money in the bank account or not," said Kindopp.

Once the final decisions have been made, Carr said the pre-design phase can begin, when they decide what's going to be included and how will it look.

"Once that pre-design phase is done, then obviously the next phase is construction," said Carr. 

She didn't comment on whether there would be money in the 2024-25 budget for the new nursing home, and Kindopp said the provincial fiscal plan wasn't brought up on Friday.

Kindopp says a decision has to be made on what is best for elders while heeding budget factors. He said he is going to reflect on the findings of the business case and call a meeting of the new nursing home committee so they can share impressions and ideas from Friday's meeting.

"The community has supported this project right from the get-go, and I'm sure that they will support the replacement of the nursing home as we continue down the road. We have to raise more money for our share, but we'll take on that challenge to get the nursing home replaced."