Ten years after construction started, Grande Prairie Hospital to finally open December 4

·2 min read
The new Grande Prairie hospital is scheduled to open on Dec. 4. (Deanna Funk/Facebook - image credit)
The new Grande Prairie hospital is scheduled to open on Dec. 4. (Deanna Funk/Facebook - image credit)

The problem-plagued Grande Prairie Regional Hospital will finally open on Dec. 4, more than 10 years after construction started and about seven years past its original opening date.

"It solidifies Grande Prairie as the health-care hub for northwestern Alberta," Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton said.

"It enhances care as the only cancer clinic north of Edmonton, and it increases access to rural communities throughout northern Alberta."

Alberta Health Services (AHS) said the 243-bed hospital cost $850 million and will employ about 1,500 staff.

The 681,000 sq. foot hospital will provide a range of health-care services including surgery, cancer care, emergency and mental health services. It will also serve as a training facility in partnership with Grande Prairie Regional College.

Former Premier Ed Stelmach announced the new facility in 2007. Construction started in 2011 with an original opening date in 2014. .

Then it was expected to be operational by late 2018. But in 2015, the province said the project was $89 million over budget and two years behind schedule.

In 2018, the NDP government dismissed the contractor, Graham Construction, and halted construction.The government said the mitigation plan submitted by the company was insufficient.

Graham Construction blamed the province for construction overruns and delays. A court subsequently ordered Alberta to pay nearly $13 million to subcontractors.

Deanna Funk/Facebook
Deanna Funk/Facebook

Clark Builders took over the project in late 2018 and completed the job three months ahead of its own schedule.

Clayton said the hospital's construction provided jobs and supported the region's economy for years and she said the public are just excited the hospital will finally be open. She said the new hospital will help in the retention and recruitment of health-care staff.

"We hear on a regular basis through AHS and the health-care experts what this facility does to attract health-care workers in the long term," she said.

Grande Prairie has had problems in the past couple years recruiting enough staff for its old Queen Elizabeth II hospital, which will temporarily remain open for at least a few months.

An AHS spokesperson acknowledged "staffing challenges" during the pandemic but he said AHS is "aggressively recruiting and are hopeful that this new modern facility will help entice healthcare professionals to Grande Prairie."

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