Evolving health care
New hospital proposed for 2002

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Feb 26/99) - Those wanting an improvement to area health care will at least get a new building with improved design sometime in 2002.

"We're duplicating the existing hospital," says Keith Morrison, who chairs the public/private partnership implementation team with the Inuvik Health and Social Services Board.

"We're not providing any new services that the existing hospital doesn't already provide."

Like the proposed new college campus, the proposed new hospital will be built, designed, financed and maintained by the private sector. The GNWT will lease the finished building in a way similar to how the Department of Public Works leases space in the Perry building.

The preliminary design, carried out by the Yellowknife firm Park Sanders Adam Vikse Architects Ltd., is set to be completed by the end of April after a slight delay to incorporate some changes.

When the GNWT hands over the preliminary design to whatever company is chosen to complete the design work for the hospital, that company will reimburse the government for the preliminary design costs.

Morrison would not hazard a guess at the cost of the preliminary design but he did pin the total budget at $28.5 million -- much more than the estimated $8.2 million for the proposed college facility.

"There's lots of work going into Inuvik. It's incredible," says Morrison.

"How hospitals are built is a lot different than how they were built in the 1950s so you're going to see a lot better views and lots of windows. It'll be a nice place for people to spend time."

The proposed hospital will have 25 long-term care beds (up from the current 14), 17 acute-care beds (down from the current 25) and 18 transient centre beds (down from the current 26) for people visiting relatives who are giving birth or are in long-term care.

The increase in the long-term care beds will "certainly be helpful in reducing the waiting lists," according to hospital CEO Ray Scott.

The new hospital is set to be constructed east of the current hospital. And Morrison says the old building may be demolished in sections while construction progresses.

One possible site being considered for another, separate project -- construction of an elders' facility -- is the land where the existing hospital stands.

As such, the long-term care unit is set to be built to the west of the proposed facility. That way, if the elders' facility is constructed where the current hospital stands, there can be easy access between it and the long-term care unit.

"Our mandate was to continue providing the same services the existing hospital does but what's exciting is it's going to be done out of a new building," says Morrison.

An open house is tentatively set for late April or as soon as the preliminary design is finished.