Relocation of VG hospital services to begin late 2016

Click to play video: 'Relocation of VG hospital services to begin in 2016 for start of decommission process' Relocation of VG hospital services to begin in 2016 for start of decommission process
WATCH ABOVE: After years of staff and patients managing with sub-par conditions at the Victoria General Hospital the government now has a date for when it all will end. Global’s Legislative reporter Marieke Walsh reports – Apr 21, 2016

Services at the Victoria and Centennial buildings of the Victoria General hospital will start being relocated in late 2016.

The move is the start of a seven-year process to decommission the ailing buildings, announced by Premier Stephen McNeil Thursday. The plans are being released without a price tag, instead a full costing will be released once the detailed designs are confirmed in 2017.

The new facilities will “deliver top quality care to our citizens,” McNeil said.

READ MORE: No federal money coming for Victoria General Hospital replacement

The plan involves moving several services away from the VG, including:

  • Moving outpatient services, including orthopedic services, to Hants Community Hospital
  • Expanding the private sector contract with Scotia Surgery
  • Expanding the Halifax Infirmary site
  • Completing the expansion at the Dartmouth General Hospital
  • Moving five palliative care beds to the Hospice Halifax
  • Consolidating Cancer Care Nova Scotia services to a newly renovated Dickson building

The province says both the ailing Victoria and Centennial buildings will be fully decommissioned by 2022, and the buildings will be demolished.

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READ MORE: Bedbugs add to “long list of ills” at the VG: Health minister

Burst pipes, bed bugs, and a long-standing problem with contaminated drinking water, have plagued the hospital for years. The Centennial and Victoria buildings are “obsolete and unreliable,” chief of surgery Dr. David Kirkpatrick said.

Many of the projects are in the early planning and design phases, with the exception of the already announced renovations of the third and fourth floors at the Dartmouth General Hospital.

No budget for newly released hospital plan

The only price tag referenced at the technical briefing was for the fifth-floor expansion of the Dartmouth General Hospital which was already announced. It’s expected to cost $132-$138 million.

McNeil said it would be “irresponsible” to release a budget at this stage, because the detailed design work isn’t finished. However, the opposition says the lack of a budget and no details on a funding formula are red flags.

“There’s a whole bunch of questions here that the government has sort of left off the table,” Tory MLA Chris d’Entremont said.

A private public partnership (P3) is still an option for some parts of the plan. The transportation and infrastructure department’s lead on the project, John O’Connor, says the team will look at the possibility of a P3 funding model for the construction and maintenance of some facilities.

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Internal government documents obtained through access to information laws by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union show the health department’s top bureaucrat raised concerns about a P3 model.

“It is difficult to find examples of successful P3s where there are no criticisms,” deputy health minister Peter Vaughan said in a 2014 briefing note.

Citing auditor general reports from across the country, Vaughan says P3s have been problematic in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec. According to Vaughan, Ontario’s auditor general found a P3 hospital had cost the province $200 million more than it would have if it had been built directly by the province.

In Nova Scotia, Vaughan’s briefing note says several reports on the health department’s current P3s criticized the department “for its challenges in providing effective oversight and holding entities accountable.”

However, finance minister Randy Delorey says the government is looking at the feasibility of a variety of funding models before ruling any out. “To make blanket statements as to whether they are the right model or wrong model is not good management,” Delorey said.

Delorey said the government will look at the terms and conditions of each project before deciding how to fund the projects.


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