The province is getting ready to add two new operating rooms and 51 extra in-patient beds at Dartmouth General Hospital.

Marilyn More, the MLA for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley and the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, confirmed the plans for an expansion on Friday.

The Nova Scotia government said it will do the preliminary design work to renovate the fifth floor of the hospital. Although plumbing, pipes and sprinklers are installed on the fifth floor, the area has only been used for storage since it was built in 1988.

"As you look around this large, unfinished floor you will see that there is room here in this hospital to build the capacity to deliver care and surgeries to patients," More said.

"The preliminary design will be the first phase of work. It will lead to the renovation of this floor as well as the addition of two operating rooms and clinical space to this building."

Officials said they do not yet know how much the project will cost.

A request for proposals for the preliminary design work will be issued in the new year. That report, along with a cost estimate, is expected to be completed by the fall.

More said she and her cabinet colleagues will decide whether the actual construction will go ahead after looking at the cost estimates.

"It gives us hope and the expectation that we're going to have the capacity and the flexibility in the future," she said.

Earlier this week, the Capital District Health Authority announced it needs to find extra space so it can move beds out of the 44-year-old Centennial Building in Halifax and eventually demolish it.

Some of the services will be moved to the newer Halifax Infirmary several blocks away, which officials said was built to accommodate a four- or five-storey expansion.


Dr. Wylie Verge is a fundraiser and supporter of the expansion. (CBC)

It's unclear what it will cost to replace the Centennial Building or when it will happen.

Dr. Wylie Verge, a fundraiser and supporter of the expansion, said he knows first-hand how much the extra space is needed at Dartmouth General Hospital.

"I just spent a couple of nights in the emergency with pneumonia, lying on a stretcher along with nine others. Couldn't get a bed; I was lucky I was discharged home," he said.

"I believe it will go ahead. All they have to do is like cooking, you add water and stir. In this case you add money and get things done."

Dr. Todd Howlett, the Dartmouth General's site chief, said the hospital's 105 acute care beds and 33 transitional beds are often full.

"It was suggested that it wouldn't be good to have a Code Census during this announcement and I'm happy to say that today, the emerg is in pretty good shape," he told a news conference.