Yorkton – Yorkton Regional Hospital, along with Weyburn General Hospital and the Estevan Regional Nursing Home are all being promoted as in need of replacement by their respective communities. So what is the state of affairs for the replacement of these three medical facilities? Over a series of four stories, Glacier Media looked into each of these health care facility projects, with a response from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, local fundraising committees and reaction from NDP health critic Vicki Mowat. This is the second of the four stories.
According to the Ministry of Health of July 13, there was $500,000 in the 2020-21 provincial budget made available to plan for a new hospital in Yorkton. “The Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) have begun the first phases of the planning process. Timelines for the project will be available later in the planning process,” a Ministry spokesperson said in an email.
Ross Fisher is the executive director of The Health Foundation of East Central Saskatchewan.
When the provincial government announced its budget estimates in March, they approved funding for the planning of a new hospital in Yorkton. But a state of emergency was declared the next week. As a result, Fisher said, “We haven’t actually begun the process of planning for a new hospital, yet.”
Whereas both Weyburn and Estevan had each raised their respective communities’ shares for their facilities over five years ago, Yorkton has not followed the same path.
“We haven’t raised our money,” Fisher said. “We probably put a million dollars aside for a new hospital.”
Saskatchewan used to have a formula where local communities were responsible for 35 per cent of the cost of new medical facilities. That formula is no longer in place. Representatives from both Weyburn and Estevan have aimed for 20 per cent local contribution, each having achieved their local goals of $20 million and $8 million, respectively.
Fisher said, “Generally, what you do when the province or a province agrees that they're going to build a new hospital, you conduct a study to take a look at what services you would want to provide from that facility. And then, what would be the best way to construct a facility to be able to provide those services?
“And that's part of why you go through a planning exercise. The planning exercise, in part, will help you determine what the cost of the facility will be. So, really what you do is you go through the planning exercise. You arrive at what kind of a facility that you're going to build to provide services to that region. And you arrive at a cost to build that facility. The community is then responsible for their share of that cost.
“For example, what you don't want to do, is you don't want to say, Okay, here's $100 million dollars. We're going build a hospital, go build a hospital for $100 million, because it's putting the cart before the horse.
“Can you provide for all of the services you think you should be able to provide for this region for the next 50 years if you build a hospital that costs 100 million dollars?” he posed.
“I'm not saying that that's what the cost would be or that anybody's proposing. I'm just using it as an example.
“So for that purpose, we have not conducted a fundraising campaign for a new hospital because we don't know exactly what a new hospital will cost. We have raised some money for a new facility, which was part of an exercise in demonstrating that the community has a commitment to a new hospital and will support it, once we move forward, or once the government agrees to move forward with a new facility. Now that they've done that, we're going to go through the planning exercise, and to take a look at what services, we're going to provide out of this facility and determine roughly what it will cost to build that facility,” Fisher said.
Yorkton Regional Hospital currently has 86 beds. It used to have closer to 300, but that was when hospital care meant basically putting a lot of beds in large rooms.
“Essentially, the hospital at one time was just beds, all rooms with four beds in them,” Fisher said.
Most of the Yorkton Regional Hospital has reduced the number of beds per room, but there is still one section with four beds per room. Much of Yorkton Regional Hospital, formerly known as Yorkton Union Hospital, was originally set up with four beds per room.
Fisher noted that every time you add new services, like endoscopy or dialysis, beds are removed.
“The difference is that 40 years ago, you were in the hospital for 10 days and recovered. Today, people are in the hospital for a much shorter period of time. We do more procedures than we used to,” he said.
They would be looking to relocate existing diagnostic equipment, and any new purchases would be made with the intent of moving them to a new facility.
“From our point of view, clearly the planning process is important because it's when you actually take a look at assess what services you want to provide, and what services will this region, east central Saskatchewan, need not just today, but 10 years from now and 30 years from now?
Because when you build a hospital, it's with you for a long time, so that's central to what the planning will be, and then you want to build a hospital that's efficient once you've determined what kind of services, you're going to provide.
He noted you want to make sure that you build in flexibility because healthcare changes. Fisher said, “You know, 60 years ago healthcare didn't change a lot from year to year. But in the last 20 years, healthcare changes have been significant and dramatic, in a lot of ways. So you need to build flexibility into your hospitals today, so that you can accommodate change that will be happening. You may not know what the change is going to be in five years, but you can be sure that there will be changes in healthcare in that period of time.”
Estevan raised its $8 million for a new nursing home, but no news in sight for new facility