An audit into the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford (SHNB) has identified a number of construction-related deficiencies and issues.
However, JPH Consulting, which carried out the audit, noted the majority of the items are not unexpected for a project of its size.
They also said the facility’s construction generally meets the requirements set out in the project agreement.
“This facility has had its challenges, many of which have already been resolved at no cost to the people of Saskatchewan,” said Tim Heavenor from Graham Construction.
“We are committed to addressing the remaining issues outlined in the audit report, so that patients and staff can continue to deliver and receive treatment in a modern mental health facility.”
The hospital was built, and is maintained, under a public-private partnership (P3) with Access Prairies Partnership (APP), which includes Graham Construction.
An audit was requested by the Saskatchewan government last October after several issues came to light when the $407-million hospital opened in March 2019.
The first to arise, two months after it opened, was a leaking roof after the modular roof panels shrank, creating gaps and the potential for water infiltration.
APP said the entire roof had to be replaced.
People were asked not to consume water from the facility’s taps, fountains and sinks and potable water was brought in for drinking and cooking.
Officials said testing at the time determined that water sourced from the City of North Battleford was confirmed to be clean, but they were unable to determine the source of the copper or lead.
JPH Consulting said some of the other known issues at the time of its audit included water leaks in showers, condensation on windows and landscaping issues caused by the roof repairs.
The company said it identified 22 critical items during its audit.
Among those are issues with fire door separations, sound transmission through walls in sensitive spaces and mechanical equipment not having proper vibration isolation.
Another area of concern is infection prevention and control (IP&C).
“The main concerns noted during our initial review were the use of wood handrails throughout the facility, concrete saw cuts have not been caulked, and missing door operators where hands-free operation of doors was required,” the audit said.
“Additionally, it has come to our attention that there are plumbing problems which have compounded the potential spread of contaminants.”
The audit recommended a thorough review of the required IP&C guidelines between the parties to determine if further action is required.
The full audit can be found at the end of this article.
Central Services Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said the ministry will work with APP to address items raised in the audit.
“Government initiated this independent audit to fully understand the state of the facility to ensure the safety of patients, staff and families,” Cheveldayoff said.
“The audit is a snapshot in time that provides a foundation to address any deficiencies at no cost to government under the unique protections provided through the public-private-partnership (P3) project agreement.”
Central Services said priority will be given to ensure compliance with building code, fire code and safety requirements.
JPH Consulting also made recommendations “that can be used as lessons for future projects.”
Those include ensuring complete compliance team oversight and enacting additional third-party reviews.
“A third-party process audit mid-construction would be beneficial, as the findings in this report are too late to benefit the project,” the audit said.
The report noted that while there were commissioning and quality assurance plans in place to guide the construction phase, the plans were not fully implemented due to unclear roles and responsibilities.
It also found formalized approval and other processes were not consistently followed in accordance with the project agreement resulting in some gaps in record-keeping documentation.
Gordon Wyant, the minister responsible for SaskBuilds, said the audit provides guidance for future projects.
“This complex project did have challenges and we have learned from this experience that while we have solid plans in place, we need stronger governance to ensure the plans and formal processes are strictly followed,” Wyant said.
“These learnings will be applied to future projects, including traditional and P3 builds.”