Shovels are now in the ground on four separate health care expansion projects worth a combined total of more than $265 million in southwestern Manitoba.
The biggest is the long-awaited, $127-million Neepawa Health Center on a 40-acre parcel of farmland just off Provincial Trunk Highway 16 at the eastern end of the town, about 190 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg.
The three-storey, state-of-the-art, L-shaped structure will be four times the size of the town’s existing 39,000-square-foot hospital and has 60 acute care beds, up from 38 at the current facility.
The hospital will have an expanded emergency department with treatment, assessment and trauma rooms and an ambulance bay, along with enhanced space for surgery, diagnostics and palliative care, as well as outpatient services.
A favorable spring has enabled crews to proceed with work and build a stairwell tower. The project has been on the books for seven years and crews started the venture last November. It is targeted for completion in 2025.
Further to the southwest, two major capital expansion projects are underway in Brandon that will provide clinical and cancer services for residents in the region and reduce the need for patients to travel to Winnipeg.
A $110-million expansion of the Brandon Regional Health Center (BRHC) began last fall, following the completion of work on an adjacent parking lot. The project will solidify the BRHC’s role as the province’s hub for specialized services in western Manitoba.
Piling for the building expansion has already been completed and the foundation work is now underway. Upon completion, the building will have 30 additional medicine beds, a new, 16-bed intensive care unit, up from the current nine, an expanded neonatal intensive care unit and additional adult beds to meet the increasing demands of the region.
Construction of the BRHC is expected to be completed in 2025.
Meanwhile, construction crews have mobilized and excavation work has started on a $26-million expansion at the nearby Western Manitoba Cancer Center (WMCC) in Brandon.
Crews began work on the 9,400-square-foot expansion in January. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
The expansion will provide space for additional exam and procedure rooms and treatment spaces, and a new medical linear accelerator used for delivering external beam radiation treatments to patients with cancer.
The WMCC will also have a Center for Hope that will provide supportive care services to Westman patients for all cancers and allow for a continuum of care that starts at the point of diagnosis and includes education, services and programming. The Paul Albrechtsen Foundation donated $3.5 million to establish the center.
“The expansion of the WMCC to include additional radiation treatment capacity, medical oncology and hematology and the addition of the Center for Hope enhances our commitment to provide Manitobans with quality care closer to home, integrating clinical care with supportive care at the same location,” says Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba.
Both projects are supported in part by the BRHC Foundation and the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.
Brian Schoonbaert, CEO of Prairie Mountain Health, says moving forward on the major projects in Brandon will further enhance the important role that the BRHC and WMCC play in providing specialized services in the region.
In a statement, Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson noted the government remains “steadfast” in its commitment to health care in the province and providing more services closer to home.
Construction is also progressing on a $2.5-million expanded cancer care project at the Russell Health Centre. Another 2,300 square feet of space is being added to the existing chemotherapy treatment space. A medication storage area and existing nursing station are also being replaced. A patient washroom and small waiting area are being created. The unit will also have space for future expansion of treatment areas.
An official groundbreaking was held recently to mark the start of the project. The work is expected to be completed at the end of this year.
“After more than eight years of fundraising for a new chemotherapy unit at the Russell Health Centre, we are delighted that our long-awaited project is now happening,” said Gloria Tibbatts, co-chair of the Expanding Community Cancer Care Committee, which raised $1.8 million for construction and equipment costs.
“Our dream is now a reality that will benefit many. We would like to thank the people from all around our region who have supported us. The power of community and of our donors has made this possible.”