News that construction of Gander’s 60-bed long-term care facility will soon be underway is being greeted with enthusiasm.
Health and Community Services Minister John Haggie made the announcement in Gander, April 12, that work will begin this summer.
It was a follow-up to last year’s announcement that two new facilities would be constructed in Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander, along with expansion of an existing facility in Botwood, creating 140 new beds.
Haggie said NL Healthcare Partners has been selected to design, build, finance and maintain the two homes in Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander.
With a completion date of 2021, construction is expected to generate 340 person years of employment and generate $39 million in economic activity.
Melvin Burt, who’s originally from Botwood but has been at Lakeside Homes in Gander for the past three years, said the announcement was welcome news.
The long-term care facility, which has 102 beds, is operating at capacity, and the 91-year-old feels new construction is needed.
“It all helps,” he said. “There are people waiting to come here now.”
And given Newfoundland and Labrador continues to have an aging population, Burt said, it’s a step toward providing stronger care for its seniors.
More than 19 per cent of the province’s population is over the age of 65. Within the next 10 years, the province estimated that number will grow to 27 per cent.
Burt agrees with the notion that additional facilities, with additional positions, should take pressure off existing resources.
While Central Health isn’t involved in the construction phase, Andrée Robichaud, Central Health’s chief executive office, said the regional health authority has been making its own preparations surrounding the two new facilities and Botwood’s expansion.
Its focus has been making sure upwards of 200 public service employees required to staff the facilities will be in place.
“We have had public presentations around the need for personal care home attendants, to encourage people to sign up for these programs,” she said. “We also keep a very close relationship with the college to ensure there is capacity there and they can meet our needs when they come up in 2021.
“We have a good window there to ensure we can train our people.”
Robichaud said central’s long-term care facilities are at capacity and an additional 140 beds is a great step toward maintaining reliable care for seniors.
“I think government understands quite well that we have an aging population,” she said. “This is an excellent step and we need to congratulate government for moving in this direction.”