Is our new nursing home closer?

Local residents have been waiting a long time for a new nursing home.

The current building is more than 50 years old, which is ancient by healthcare facility standards. Not only is it an aging building, but the standards for what is acceptable for healthcare facilities have changed so much.

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The last few years have likely been the longest wait of all for those who see the need for a new nursing home in this city.

The committee working on the new nursing home thought it would need to raise $8 million for a new nursing home in Estevan, since $8 million would represent 20 per cent of the projected $40 million cost.

The committee reached the $8 million mark in late 2014, and held a celebration in early 2015. But that was also the early stages of the economic slowdown stemming from a lower price of oil, so most people expected there would be a wait before the provincial government would give Estevan’s new regional nursing home the green light.

We’re not sure if many thought we’d still be waiting, nearly four years later, with no end in sight.

The committee has been adding to the fundraising total, thanks to occasional donations. But the government isn’t spending like they were a few years ago, and multi-million dollar long-term care facilities aren’t being constructed like they once were.

The local committee, to their credit, hasn’t given up. They have continued to lobby the provincial government to move the project forward, and you can tell they aren’t going to stop until Estevan’s new nursing home is constructed.

Their latest effort was a report by 1080 Architecture Planning in Regina, and it might be the biggest reason for optimism in years.

This report shows that the projected cost of a new nursing home is $30 million, rather than $40 million. Estevan has raised more than 26 per cent of the projected cost, rather than 20 per cent.

Why has the committee been able to save $10 million? By constructing a three-story building with 24 rooms on each floor, rather than a single story building with 72 rooms.

Apparently it’s cheaper to build up instead of out.

Some might be concerned, since a single-story design has been preferred for healthcare facilities for some time. And it’s likely best to have all of the residents together on one floor. It creates that sense of community.

It has apparently proven to be a successful design model in Alberta.

And most of us would likely rather see an excellent and modern three-story building that gets built soon, than an excellent and modern one-story building that gets built later.

There are also projected efficiencies from having the new nursing home attached to St. Joseph’s Hospital. We’re not sure why that’s so surprising, since the expectation was always that it would be connected to the hospital. But the connection will allow for a variety of savings, ranging from staff to the kitchen, and heating to maintenance.

Local residents shouldn’t get their hopes up too much. The findings of this report are encouraging, but they don’t mean we’ll be getting our new nursing home any time soon.

Sure it’s great that the new nursing home will cost $10 million less than initially expected, but the government still has to find more than $21 million in its budget to make this project happen.

And Estevan isn’t the only community that needs a new nursing home, or a new healthcare facility such as a hospital.

We think this facility should move forward next year and it should be a top healthcare capital priority for the government, but we’ll admit we’re biased when it comes to finally getting a new nursing home.

So the waiting game will continue. We’ll have to make due with the current facility that is more than 50 years old. The capable staff members at the current nursing home will continue to do their best with the facility they have.

And the residents will have to continue to live in a facility whose amenities and design have not met the current standards for some time.


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