Health Minister Madeleine Dubé says some sections of the Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Perth-Andover will never be usable again after last month’s flood.
The province’s health minister was outlining her department’s spending plans on Thursday when she offered a blunt assessment of the hospital’s future.
"The lower part of the hospital, it's gone, basically. There's nothing we can do about it," Dubé said.
Dubé would not say what the Department of Health will do to make up for the loss of those sections of the hospital.
'Are we going to rebuild that piece on other land, or what are we going to do? We don't know, so the amount of money is not there.' — Health Minister Madeleine Dubé
Her spending estimates contain no money for repairs or a replacement because the flood happened four days before the provincial budget was tabled in the legislative assembly.
Dubé said it would be wrong to repair sections of the building that are clearly vulnerable to more flooding in the future.
"It would be a bad decision because we know now that the water can go to that level, so we don't want to put millions in there and next year, or the year after, be in the same position," Dubé told the committee.
Liberal MLA Bill Fraser, the opposition's health critic, asked Dubé whether the provincial government will purchase land in the area to build a new hospital.
Dubé said it's too early to consider building new sections of the hospital.
Instead, she said the priority is moving some services back to unaffected sections of the building and making sure patients get the care they need at hospitals in Grand Falls and Plaster Rock, which are 30 to 40 minutes away from Perth-Andover.
"Are we going to rebuild that piece on other land, or what are we going to do? We don't know, so the amount of money is not there," she said.
The northwestern village of Perth-Andover was hit by a massive flood on March 23. Patients at the Perth-Andover hospital were moved to local hospitals or other health-care facilities as the water was rising.
Residents in the area have been growing frustrated by the lack of information about the status of the hospital.
Dr. Jose Morales, a general surgeon at the hospital, has helped organize a group called the Hotel-Dieu Hospital Defence Committee.
The group is demanding a commitment from the provincial government to put more resources into the hospital to get it open again.
The former Progressive Conservative government of Bernard Lord tried to downgrade the Perth-Andover hospital to a health centre, which is why some residents fear the flood will become a pretext to try again.