A new long-term care facility opened in Saint John this week, but the CEO of the Loch Lomond Villa says the 100 beds barely begin to address the growing need.
"There is still close to 200 people on a waiting list, and there's no question that we still need to look at how we can best serve our senior population," said Cindy Donovan.
She started lobbying the provincial government to rebuild the villa in 2003.
Plans for a $75-million replacement building and renovation project were announced by the former Liberal government in December 2009.
The Alward government then put those plans temporarily on hold in January 2011, pending a review of all buildings and renovation programs at nursing homes across the province.
Despite a Tory freeze to funding last year, construction of the new $30.25-million facility, was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, Donovan said on Thursday, as 25 residents settled into the new dementia wing.
"This unit, this whole building is just absolutely stunning and I think it's a wonderful thing for all the new residents," said Darlene Smith, whose mother-in-law Doreen Smith is among them.
"I think they're going to be very happy here."
The new building, which is located across the street from the existing building, offers bright interiors, state-of-the-art equipment and even a movie theatre.
"Nursing homes have always had a reputation of places for people to come and die. That's not so anymore," Donovan said.
She said she believes the provincial government is making progress with updating long-term care in the province, but there has been no word on how it will address the wait list in Saint John.
The provincial government has not added any new beds to alleviate the strain in the city, she said. In fact, once the Loch Lomond Villa rebuild is complete, there will be six fewer beds.
The new 100-bed facility is divided into four units, each with 25 residents.
The first 25 moved in on Tuesday, followed by another 25 on Thursday. The remaining 50 are expected to be settled in by next week.
The majority of the rooms are private rooms with an ensuite bathroom, government officials have said.
All four units have a living room, dining room, activity room and a family quiet room.
Phase 2 of the project will involve extensive renovations to the existing building, which has some wings that are more than 40 years old, hallways so narrow that residents' wheelchairs scratch the walls and roof leaks that scar the ceilings.
The renovated building, expected to be complete by 2016, will house 90 residents.