© Geraldine Brophy/The Western Star
Finance Minister Tom Marshall addresses the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade Wednesday at Marble Mountain.
CORNER BROOK — Finance Minister Tom Marshall said he was caught off guard when he heard the story of a woman who could not get into Corner Brook’s long-term care facility.
The woman has since become a resident at the centre, but the Tory MHA for Humber East couldn’t forget having a conversation with officials from what is now Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland about the plans for one floor on one of the new building’s wings.
When the building was being constructed, the plan was to reserve that one floor for the university to conduct research on aging. The only caveat was that the need to use the floor for long-term care patients would take priority.
With Grenfell not using the reserved space, the $3 million Marshall announced in Tuesday’s provincial budget for the long-term care facility in Corner Brook will go towards making that floor ready to accept 15 more residents.
“No one told me the long-term care facility was full,” Marshall said Wednesday after speaking to the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade.
“I just happened to find that out and now we have $3 million to put new beds in there.”
Marshall said his understanding is that there is also a unit at the new centre reserved for residents who display aggressive behaviour. This unit, he said, will be opened for regular residents while the unused wing is prepared to welcome residents.
This year’s budget will help open 25 new long-term care beds in Corner Brook. Marshall also announced $189,300 for the protective care residences which house long-term care patients with mild to moderate dementia.
Budget 2010 had announced $437,000 to open the fourth duplex located on Wheeler’s Road. The latest funding will help diversify the skill-mix ratio so the 10-bed building can handle residents who are beyond the stages of mild to moderate dementia, but not quite to the point where they require being in the larger long-term care building.
The biggest chunk of health care funding for western Newfoundland in Tuesday’s budget was the $18.5 million to advance the planning for the new regional hospital being built in Corner Brook. Marshall said Wednesday the estimated cost of that project is now expected to be about $500 million, making it one of the biggest projects the Progressive Conservatives have taken on since assuming power in 2003.
“My understanding is they are at the stage now where they are working on the programming,” Marshall said of the plans for the hospital. “When they have that done, the architects will design the building. That will take some time. So, it moves along, though it’s never as fast as we want.”
Marshall said it is his understanding that the new hospital will be constructed by late 2016 and ready for occupancy in 2017.
The Western Star