The town of Neepawa, Man., about 190 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, is finally getting its long-awaited wish – a new hospital.
Construction crews have moved in to start prep work on a 40-acre parcel of farmland just off Provincial Trunk Highway 16 on the eastern end of town that will be the location of the $127-million structure.
In three years time, the rezoned site near Lions Riverbend Campground will be home to a facility that is four times the physical size of the existing Neepawa Health Centre and will offer a wider variety of specialty services.
Renderings show a three-storey, L-shaped facility with clean lines, neutral colours, pleasing esthetics and a wide entrance at the front. The structure will have 63 acute care in-patient beds, up from 38 at the current site.
“This new facility will serve residents in Neepawa and surrounding communities and will improve access to a wider variety of specialty services,” says Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon.
“When it’s complete, this investment in a new hospital will serve as a foundation for a health care system that allows residents in this region to more easily access specialized health care services closer to home without the need to travel to larger centres like Brandon or Winnipeg for care.”
The hospital will replace the existing health centre. It will have an expanded emergency department designed to best practice standards and include treatment and assessment rooms, a trauma room, stretcher bay and ambulance bay, and enhanced space for a number of programs such as surgery, diagnostics and palliative care, as well as various outpatient services, including chemotherapy and ambulatory care.
Additionally, renal services will be established in the community for the first time following a review of the number and frequency of patients travelling for dialysis treatment. This will enable patients who live in surrounding areas to receive care closer to home and reduce the travel required.
Brian Schoonbaert, CEO of Prairie Mountain Health, which provides a broad continuum of health programs and services, says the Neepawa area is growing and a lot of new building has been happening in the town, including a $5-million RCMP detachment as well as a Kinsmen Kourts assisted living facility.
Construction crews began working at the site in the first week of November. Substantive work on the hospital is expected to begin in the new year with the project targeted for completion in 2025.
Schnoonbaert noted extensive consultations were conducted with community leaders and staff at the existing health centre to guide planning of the new hospital. The 39,000-square-foot health centre was built in 1952 and in need of replacement.
Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke, who is MLA for Agassiz, says the hospital project has been on the books for seven years and she is pleased it is finally getting built.
“It has taken a lot of effort and a lot of time by a lot of individuals to get to this day,” she says. “It was a big issue when I was being nominated in 2015, so Neepawa people have been working on this for a very, very long time.
“It’s a good thing they are so dedicated because it’s been a long journey.”
Clarke notes it takes a great team from many different places in health care to bring such a project together.
“Even more recently, when the costs were escalating, I will say I was getting a little nervous because you know, ‘Will these projects still proceed?’ Not all make it past that finish line. But we’re there,” she says.
Dr. Mauro Verrelli, medical director of the Manitoba Renal Program, says he is pleased that renal services will be available at the hospital. There are currently 28 hemodialysis patients living in the catchment area who could potentially benefit from the new, eight-station unit in Neepawa.
“Kidney dialysis patients who live in or near Neepawa are used to making multiple trips per week to other communities to receive care,” he says. “Establishing this service in Neepawa will improve their quality of life by significantly shortening commutes, allowing them to be closer to the network of family and friends they rely upon for support.”
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