At last, the new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and integrated correctional facility is officially open.
The ribbon was cut for the new hospital at its grand opening Friday. The grand opening included Premier Scott Moe and upwards of 17 other ministers and MLAs from the provincial government. Also on hand were officials from Saskatchewan Hospital and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
The total investment came to $407 million for the entire project, a number that includes construction and maintenance costs to keep the facility in like-new condition for 30 years under a Public-Private Partnership.
Premier Moe said to reporters it “represents the largest investment in mental health treatment that this province has ever seen.”
“I think it’s a special place. And we heard today that not only is it a hospital, not only is it a place of treatment, but it is a home. We have much more adequate facilities for people to feel at home when they are spending some time here receiving their treatment. So a tremendous day, a tremendous step forward, a tremendous facility offering services unlike anywhere in the nation.”
He also noted it was a new delivery of care model, noting it was an integrated facility. The new facility includes 188 psychiatric rehabilitation beds as well as 96 beds in the integrated correctional wing. That compares to the 156 psychiatric rehabilitation beds in the old Sask. Hospital.
Moe also pledged to continue to invest in mental health treatments in the future.
“It’s a priority for the government, it’s a priority for the people and families across the province, and today is a good day,” said Moe.
One of those residing at the hospital long-term, Keri L., presented the premier with a key to the hospital made by patients and staff at the hospital.
Officials at the grand opening touted the new facility as leading the way for mental health treatment in the country.
Suann Laurent, chief operating officer of Saskatchewan Health Authority, noted the model would be an inter-sectoral approach including different ministries.
“It’s really about how do we surround people with supports for what they need, to help them be healthy and give them what they need.”
The construction of the new hospital began with the sod turning in September of 2015. The original completion date was supposed to be June 1, but the completion date was pushed back a few months.
Last fall, the move from the old facility took place. Saskatchewan Hospital Director Linda Shynkaruk said the transition happened in three stages, starting with a small move on Nov. 3 and two subsequent moves.
Officials noted the transition went very smoothly for the patients. The day of their actual move, said Shynkaruk, all they had to do was “load people in vehicles and drive them over.” The last group came Nov. 17.
The indication is that all the furniture and equipment is now in place at the new facility. Shynkaruk said there were 11 semi-loads of furniture delivered to the hospital.
“What I tell people when they ask me how are things going, I say that we’re moved in, we’re not settled in completely. That’s going to take time, of course, but that doesn’t negate that we’re absolutely thrilled and happy with where we’re at.”
While there are 284 total beds in the new hospital, it is not yet at full capacity for patients. The intention is to get it up to full capacity through a pre-planned, strategic approach.
Laurent said to reporters that more recruitment of psychiatrists was being done before adding more patients.
“We can’t bring in people without having everybody (ready) to go and it was always planned to be a sequenced approach.”
Shynkaruk said to reporters there are over 130 patients at the hospital currently. Others are on referral lists, and Shynkaruk said the hospital is taking people in as they can.
It is being done strategically, she said, “so that we can make sure everybody’s safe and settled in.”