Glavine aims for 2023 opening of new Berwick long-term care home

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Nova Scotia's health minister says he wants to see a long-term care home in Berwick, N.S., replaced by 2023.

That timeline means Grand View Manor could be the first major project completed under the provincial government's new commitment to improving long-term care.

Grand View Manor is one of seven homes that were recently chosen to be either replaced or restored to bring them up to modern standards.

When the announcement was made Jan. 29, the province said it was aiming to complete the first projects in 2024. One week later, on a visit to Grand View Manor, Health Minister Leo Glavine said he wanted to push for the 50-year-old facility to be rebuilt even sooner.

"I know that with the design already conceptualized, it is my hope that as long as I'm at the department we'll drive this project on a pace that I think we need," Glavine said Friday while delivering remarks to a small group of stakeholders at Grand View Manor.

"To look at an opening by 2023 is indeed realistic," he said.

CEO Menna MacIsaac echoed that.

"We feel very well positioned to move forward," said MacIsaac. "We're totally thrilled."

Grand View Manor, which has 142 beds, has been planning for a new facility for several years and it already owns the land where it will be built.

Glavine said he'd like to see at least one change to the design, which is to increase capacity to 144 beds. The additional beds would be for double rooms to align with the province's new law that assures couples won't be separated in long-term care. Grand View Manor's current plan is for private single rooms.

"I think working with [our architects] we can make that happen," MacIsaac said.

Engineer hired to assess state of other homes

Many of the other six homes tapped for upgrades are still waiting to find out if they'll be replaced or retrofitted. Northwood is the only other home for which the province has announced definitive plans; its Halifax campus will be maintained at reduced capacity and a new facility will be built in Fall River with additional capacity.

Glavine said he expects plans to be in place for each of the remaining facilities within the next six months, and for all construction to be underway within two to three years.

Administrators from some homes have expressed their hopes for new buildings, others for renovations. All have said they're waiting for input from the Department of Health. Glavine said a new team is coming together to do that work.

Jean Laroche/CBC
Jean Laroche/CBC

"We've just hired an engineer at the department who will provide the information about the state of these homes," Glavine said in an interview.

The province has promised a total of five full-time employees to oversee the projects.

Glavine said his department already has some generic plans for new facilities that could be adapted for different locations.

He said the seven projects represent the first of three phases for improving long-term care in Nova Scotia. According to Glavine, a total of 22 facilities have been identified as needing upgrades to bring them in line with new infection control standards.

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