Nova Scotia

Long-term beds coming to Cape Breton a 'significant change,' says health minister

The Nova Scotia government says the province's aging population may start needing long-term care beds soon, so it plans to add 74 new beds in new facilities promised for New Waterford and North Sydney.

Increasing the number of beds planned for Cape Breton marks a shift in direction for government

The Nova Scotia government is planning to close hospitals in North Sydney and New Waterford and will replace them with community health centres and an increased number of long-term care beds. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The Nova Scotia government is adding to the number of long-term care beds in the province, starting in Cape Breton.

The province announced plans last June to replace hospitals in New Waterford and North Sydney with new community health centres and long-term care homes.

At the time, the government estimated it would double the number of long-term care beds by putting 48-bed facilities into each community.

But this week's budget contained a bit of a surprise. The government now says New Waterford and North Sydney will each get 60 beds — a total increase of 74 new beds in the system.

Health Minister Randy Delorey says the province will more than double the number of long-term care beds in New Waterford and North Sydney. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"That is a fairly significant change," said Health Minister Randy Delorey.

"I mean, it's more than double the number of long-term care beds in those communities, which we believe reflects what the needs are for the community based upon the information that we have at this point."

According to budget documents released this week, adding long-term care beds marks a shift in the government's thinking.

New beds needed

Until now, the Liberal government's efforts have been aimed at keeping people in their homes longer, though advocates and union officials have long called for the addition of new beds in the system.

Delorey said the decision to add new beds in Cape Breton was made solely on the advice of health-care officials on the ground.

"This is about looking at the region and how to develop health care and deliver that health care and what infrastructure is needed to do that," he said.

44 beds will re-open at the Glace Bay General hospital, after some family doctors agreed to resume in-patient care. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Since June, the government has been working on a functional plan that will be used to determine the size and scope of new health-care facilities in Cape Breton.

Along with the closure of two community hospitals, the province plans to expand the community hospital in Glace Bay and enlarge the regional hospital in Sydney.

Earlier this week, Delorey was in Membertou to announce plans to spend more than $100 million on a new building at the regional hospital to house expanded cancer care, a larger emergency department and increased space for critical care units.

Public or private?

Delorey said the functional plans aren't finished yet for New Waterford, North Sydney or Glace Bay, but he expects to announce details soon.

"Work has been ongoing," he said. "It's been going very well, and I do look forward in the not-too-distant future to going back to the communities in Cape Breton to provide those updates and the next steps in the redevelopment project."

Delorey said it's not yet known whether the new long-term care facilities will be built by the government or a private-public partnership.

It also hasn't been decided yet whether the long-term care beds will continue to be licensed to the Nova Scotia Health Authority or whether they will be taken over by a private operator.

"Those specific details would all come out when we make the announcement in the communities as the functional plan process proceeds," Delorey said.

MORE TOP STORIES

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now