Nfld. & Labrador

New long-term care will share facilities with future Corner Brook hospital

Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister John Haggie says starting work on a new long-term care home in Corner Brook before a new hospital is the right move.

Health Minister John Haggie says announcement about future hospital is coming

Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister John Haggie says the new long-term care centre in Corner Brook will host facilities that could be used by a future hospital. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister John Haggie says starting work on a new long-term care home in Corner Brook before a new hospital is the right move.

Last week, the province announced that construction on the new long-term care facility would begin this fall, and will signal the first construction project for the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital campus in the city.

Delays in building the hospital have been a contentious issue for residents of western Newfoundland for years, but Haggie said news that work will start this year on the long-term care home shows the ball is rolling on the overall project.

"You can't do everything at once," Haggie told the Corner Brook Morning Show. "The original intent had always been to build the long-term care facility first."

Shared facilities

Haggie said building the long-term care home before the hospital — or acute care facility — makes sense because there is high demand for long-term care beds in western Newfoundland. As well, he said it will allow a more integrated approach when it comes to the different facilities that will be part of the hospital campus.

The health minister said the plan is to have the long-term care handle laundry and catering for the hospital, as well as it's own needs.

Western Newfoundland residents have been waiting for years for progress on a new acute-care centre to replace the ageing Western Memorial Regional Hospital (pictured). (CBC)

Haggie also said the long-term care home will have palliative care and rehabilitation beds which could be used by the future hospital.

"There is potential this way to maximize the use of beds," Haggie said. "To use the rehabilitation services to cut down on demand for long-term care, and it makes it far more of an integrated approach instead of being in silos, which has been done in the past."

'Watch this space'

Haggie said there are currently 62 people in hospitals in western Newfoundland waiting to be moved elsewhere, such as to a long-term care facility. He said that number is expected to rise as the baby boom generation continues to age — a demographic that's being considered when planning the new facility.

"You don't want to over-build, which is unlikely, but you won't want to under-build either," he said.

In the meantime, Haggie said the long-term care is a first step towards a larger hospital campus, and that people should expect further government announcements regarding the hospital.

"Watch this space," he said. "This is the first step in a plan that was always going to be a phased approach. Bear with us, we're almost there."

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show