Ten months after a flood displaced the emergency department at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre in Amherst, N.S., the site is preparing to reopen in a renovated space.
Officials with Nova Scotia Health announced Friday that the emergency department would reopen Feb. 14 in the location where it was before.
Lissa Lynch, director of health services and site lead at Cumberland Regional, said plans that were already in the works for a minor renovation to the emergency department before the flood last May were incorporated into the cleanup work.
The reopened site will include a new registration and triage space with a dedicated waiting area for triage.
There are new private observation rooms with space for three stretchers, expanded patient care space and space to support patients who need mental health services.
One aim of the work, which cost about $2 million, is to help improve patient flow.
This work is independent of a feasibility study looking at the expansion of the emergency department and renal dialysis service.
Bethany McCormick, vice-president of operations for the health authority's northern zone, said the study is nearing completion.
Like other regional hospitals, McCormick said Cumberland Regional is seeing increased patient volume and any planning for future work at the site would take into consideration patient visits now and anticipated traffic for the next 20 years.
Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin said the renovations will make a big difference for patients and doctors and staff at the hospital, although she's disappointed they've taken so long.
Since the flood, the emergency department has operated out of the space normally used for ambulatory care. Ambulatory care services had to move to another part of the hospital.
That moving around "created compounding problems of overcrowding conditions that already existed," she said.
The amount of traffic the hospital is seeing is further proof of the need for the expansion, said Smith-McCrossin and she said she's hoping for more news soon from the Health Department or Nova Scotia's health authority.
Earlier this month, the emergency department in Amherst became the unintended emblem for problems facing the province's health-care system after reports of the story of Allison Holthoff, a 37-year-old woman who died after waiting hours to receive care.
The situation set off calls for immediate interventions to help health-care workers and patients alike.
Earlier this week, the provincial government announced plans intended to help emergency departments around the province. The plan has received mixed reviews.
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