Nova Scotia

Victoria General upgrade plans fall to health authority, says Leo Glavine

Nova Scotia’s health minister says a decision about the future of the QEII hospital’s Centennial Building at the Victoria General site may be revealed this fall, pending meetings with the province’s health authority.

Health minister says implementing a plan regarding Centennial Building may be years away

Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine says he'll meet with the provincial health authority to work out how to move forward with upgrades to the Centennial Building at Halifax's QEII hospital. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's health minister said a decision about the future of the Centennial Building at the Victoria General site may be revealed this fall, pending meetings with the province's health authority. 

Leo Glavine said Thursday night's flood at the Victoria General that forced the cancellation of over 100 surgeries is a key indication that urgent action is required.

"I have my first meeting to kind of review the first months of the Nova Scotia provincial health authority's work. That is obviously one of the issues, even before this incident, as to where are we with replacement. Where are we with upgrades."

Four years ago, the NDP government proposed a plan to replace the Centennial Building. Glavine said patient safety is top priority, but creating a plan is the health authority's job. 

"When it comes to operations and strategic planning, that is the role of the provincial health authority. So I'm hoping through this fall, to get that kind of update how the work is going in Dartmouth, and what's going to be the next stage at the QEII Sciences site."

What's delayed change, Glavine said, is the shift from Capital Health to the Nova Scotia Health Authority which led to a review of facilities across the province. But upgrades to Dartmouth General to provide relief when relocating patients came first.

"In terms of the plan, what we advanced was to first pickup the needs as directed by the auditor general that had to take place in Dartmouth," Glavine said.

"But the time has come to certainly look at this building, the Centennial Building, the design — the second stage design — is underway there. The good news is that the developments at Dartmouth General with the third and fourth floor being completed — and setting the stage for 50 new beds on the fifth floor — is all part of the continuum of revitalizing our major provincial facilities."

Timeline unknown

Glavine applauded the response to Thursday's flood.

"The deal with the flood of that magnitude and to quickly responds is to make sure that the safety of patients in critical care was not compromised.  From the accounts that I received this morning, that went extremely, extremely well." 

But a timeline focusing on upgrading Victoria General won't be provided until Glavine meets with the Health Authority. Glavine said any rebuilds will be "the biggest cost that we would have incurred in a quarter of a century in this province."

"It's a much different requirement today than what it was 50 years ago. We need a much greater flow-through concept with our modern approaches to treatment, to surgery, and all that has to be accounted for," he said. 

As to why the review wasn't started sooner, Glavine recalls his past in public administration. 

"The areas that I can say, having been in a public facility through my life as a teacher, is that we sometimes don't do the annual maintenance that is required and [there's] a catch-up factor. But also, we need to be prepared better when the life cycle of a building is truly at its end stage." 

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