Nova Scotia

New emergency department, long-term care rooms announced for Yarmouth

Friday was a long time coming for Paul Legere.

The veteran emergency department doctor at Yarmouth Regional Hospital recently spoke out along with colleagues about the need for a replacement site and concerns that the government was not moving fast enough to address the issue.

On Friday those concerns were answered.

Service Nova Scotia Minister Colton LeBlanc announced that a construction tender for a new emergency department would be issued this spring.

Construction is expected to be complete in 2027 on a space that will have double the current capacity and be able to care for 30 patients and handle four ambulances.

There will be two triage spaces, 10 exam rooms and separate space for mental health and gynecological examinations.

For Legere, who has talked about how the existing space is bursting at the seams and cannot accommodate the needs of patients or staff, it can’t come soon enough.

Service Nova Scotia Minister Colton LeBlanc says construction on the new emergency department is expected to be complete by 2027. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

“It’s unbelievable to know we’re going to have a new department that’s going to function as a proper emergency department, that’s going to serve the entire southwest population,” he said in an interview.

“It’s fantastic.”

Along with the new emergency department, LeBlanc also announced that the government is spending $1 million to help upgrade an assisted living facility connected to the hospital to include 21 licensed long-term care rooms, each with a private bathroom.

LeBlanc said the partnership with GEM Health Care Group, the home’s owner and operator, follows a callout in November by the Seniors and Long-Term Care Department seeking options to increase the number of beds in the system. GEM was in the process of renovations following a flood when the call went out and the timing was right, said Mahmood Hussain, GEM’s director of people relations.

Yarmouth Regional’s 125 beds are usually all full and currently 38 of them are occupied by people awaiting long-term care.

The front of a building, including its entrance is seen with parked cars in front
Service Nova Scotia Minister Colton LeBlanc also announced that the government is spending $1 million to help upgrade space in an assisted living facility connected to the hospital. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Hussain said people would begin moving into the new rooms next week and he expected the 21 rooms, all single occupancy, would be filled by the end of March.

The move will mean more capacity within the hospital and help ease pressures on the emergency department, said Legere.

LeBlanc, who worked in the area as a paramedic before entering politics, said overcrowding and a lack of space have been long-standing issues and he expected Friday’s announcement would help.

“These are important issues for staff and for patients and their families,” he said in an interview.

The former Liberal government first promised a new emergency department for Yarmouth four years ago. A tender for design and analysis work was not issued until two years later and that work was completed late last year.

Yarmouth MLA and Liberal Leader Zach Churchill said he was pleased to see the government advancing the project. He credited local health-care workers, such as Legere, for keeping the matter on the government’s radar.

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