North

Norman Wells opens doors to new health centre, long-term care facility

The N.W.T. government spent $41.1 million to design and build the new, approximately 43,000-square-foot facility, which replaces the town’s old health centre.

N.W.T. gov’t spent $41.1M to design, build facility that replaces old health centre

Local chiefs and N.W.T. government officials are marking the opening of the new facility in Norman Wells on Monday afternoon. (The Town of Norman Wells)

The opening of a new health centre and long-term care facility in Norman Wells on Monday means more seniors from the Sahtu region will be able to age closer to home.

"There's a lot of caregivers there from the region and a lot from my home community, so that brought some comfort," said Ronald Pierrot, who helped his 86-year-old mother move into the long-term care facility on Friday. 

"It is a beauty of a place."

Pierrot was helping care for his mother in Fort Good Hope, but it eventually became difficult because he has to work, he said.

The opening of the long-term care centre in Norman Wells means his mother can remain near her family — and even visit Fort Good Hope — while getting the support she needs.

$41M to design and build centre

Dozens of community members, elders and government officials were at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Sahtu Got'ine Regional Health and Social Services Centre and Sahtu Dene Necha Ko Long Term Care Facility. The building replaces the town's 40-year-old health centre, and is much larger than the old facility.

The new building, which houses the long-term care facility, measures about 43,000 square feet, compared to the previous health centre, which was about 4,500 square feet in size.

The N.W.T. government spent $41.1 million to design and build the new health centre and long-term care facility, according to Damien Healy, spokesperson with the Department of Health and Social Services.

The new health centre includes rooms for family, couples and individual therapy, a quiet room for families, six clinic rooms, a procedure room, and a wheelchair-accessible reception area.

Health Minister Glen Abernethy was at the opening event, along with Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann, Sahtu MLA Daniel McNeely, chiefs of surrounding Sahtu communities, and a number of officials with the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.

"This is really the first time that we've had long-term care in the Sahtu," said Abernethy. "We've been trying to support people to stay in their communities and their regions for as long as possible in the territory, but up until now we really had no regional option."

So far, he said, two people who were staying at care centres in Yellowknife and the Beaufort Delta region have been able to return home to the Sahtu to live at the Norman Wells long-term care centre.

"We anticipate that there will be more over time," he said. 

18 individual long-term care rooms

The long-term care facility is designed for elders with "level 3 and level 4 supportive needs," according to the health department.

Level 3 and 4 care involves people who may not be able to get around on their own, who needs complex support, or might be at risk of harm because of their condition. Both levels of care require 24-hour, on-site nursing.

The facility has 18 bedrooms for individual residents, which are divided between two houses. Those houses each have a kitchen, fireplace, living room and patio.

The territorial government says it's working to make sure traditional foods can be cooked and served at the long-term care facility.

"Biggest thing is the country food, [to] give them some comfort," said Pierrot, explaining traditional food is extremely important to elders.

He said family members are also allowed to bring elders country food at the facility, and bring the elders on trips out to camp.

Nurses, cooks and other support staff will be at the long-term care facility 24/7, which is equipped with a physiotherapy room, a foot care area, spa and hair salon, as well as a dental and eye clinic room.

Elders will also have access to a spiritual centre and be able to relax in the centre's screened-in deck and courtyard areas, according to the health department.

Some elders began moving into the long-term care centre last week, and more will be moving in at the beginning of September, according to Healy.

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