Nova Scotians who have booked appointments at Nova Scotia's newest health-care facility will get to walk through the doors of the Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre starting Monday morning.
On Wednesday the centre's staff, politicians and invited guests took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the province's first public-private partnership in the health care sector.
Premier Tim Houston called it "an incredible day".
"Look at this beautiful facility and imagine the good that's going to happen here," he told those assembled near the front lobby of the centre. "There's no question when you look across the country that our national medicare system is in trouble, is on the ropes in many ways, but I believe it can be saved.
"Nova Scotians elected us to fix health care and we're doing it by chipping away, one solution at a time."
Up to 280,000 visits a year
Houston noted the centre is part of the province's plan to replace aging facilities with brand new ones designed, not only for the health care needs of Nova Scotians today, but well into the future.
The province is paying EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare, the private partner that designed and built the centre, $260 million for its work, which includes financing costs and 30 years of maintenance. The province hired an outside firm to do an audit that concluded the private-public partnership would save Nova Scotia $35.4 million compared to a traditional hospital project.
The centre will be home to an eye care clinic as well as offering orthopedic assessment and rehabilitation services. Patients will also get to book appointments for blood work, X-rays and ultrasounds. It's anticipated that the centre will handle up to 280,000 patient visits a year.
Premier Tim Houston, centre, and other officials hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre on Wednesday. (Jean Laroche/CBC)
The previous Liberal government announced the project in 2017 as a way to provide care to people from outside Halifax who didn't want to travel into the downtown to get it. Bayers Lake was chosen as the ideal location given its proximity to highways 102 and 103.
Former premier Iain Rankin, who represents the area that includes the facility, called it "a great day for the Timberlea Prospect area and all of Nova Scotia."
"I think it showed we were right in the way we planned for more modern infrastructure," said Rankin, who took some of the credit for the building.
"Under the whole QE2 redevelopment plan this is the only project that has been completed and it was because of the good planning under the previous government."
Halifax Infirmary timeline unclear
The Progressive Conservative cabinet minister responsible for health infrastructure, Colton Leblanc, told reporters after the ribbon cutting that plans to convert a Bedford hotel into a patient care facility were well underway with an anticipated completion date next year, but he could not say when the province would break ground at the Halifax Infirmary site.
"We're hoping that by next year we'll be in a position to start those works," said Leblanc who, once again referred to the work "as the largest health-care infrastructure work of our province's history."
A revamped plan, announced last spring, includes the construction of an acute-care tower with 216 patient beds, 16 operating rooms, an intensive care unit and a new emergency department. The province is also planning to build a new vehicle garage with 800 to 1,000 parking spaces.
Work to demolish a parking garage on Robie Street was supposed to have started this winter, but that work has been put off indefinitely.
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