Province signs off on more health-care spending, but releases few details

Province signs off on more health-care spending, but releases few details

The Nova Scotia government recently authorized more than $58 million in health-care spending, although the public will have to wait for more announcements to hear project details.

An order in council was signed Dec. 19 for the spending, but little further information was provided.

A spokesperson for the Health Department said the money is “to support capital investment in the delivery of health care” and includes robotic equipment to improve surgical precision, investments in information technology and the recently announced transitional care facilities that will help move recovering patients out of acute-care hospital beds.

More details will be provided this month, according to the spokesperson.

By the numbers

The breakdown of the spending itemized in the order in the council includes:

  • $41.6 million in grants for Nova Scotia Health.

  • $6.7 million in grants for the IWK Health Centre.

  • $9.3 million at the disposal of the health minister for capital projects.

  • $680,000 at the disposal of the minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health for capital projects.

The provincial government announced a slew of major health-care infrastructure projects in December, including new emergency departments in Halifax and Dartmouth, more operating rooms in Halifax, hundreds of new in-patient beds across Halifax Regional Municipality and the transitional care centers.

At the time of the announcement, Premier Tim Houston said there would be two transitional care centers — one to be constructed in Bayers Lake near the site of the new outpatient center, and the other at a yet-to-be-announced location in HRM .

The purpose of the two buildings is to provide space for patients who are well enough to be moved out of acute care beds, but are not ready to return home. The sites will also be used by people who are in hospital because they’re awaiting a long-term care placement.

Relieving ED pressure

Health Minister Michelle Thompson has said the two facilities, which will collectively have 195 beds, should help address backlogs in emergency departments where patients can wait hours or even days for in-patient beds to become available.

The order in council last week follows two from earlier in December related to the transitional care centers and the redevelopment of the Halifax Infirmary.

A total budget for all of the government’s health-care projects is likely years away, as work extends over a 15-year period, although it will be in the billions of dollars.

The decision to expand facilities and add projects followed ongoing challenges and delays with the original plan to redevelop the Halifax Infirmary. That plan did not account for the population boom and growing service demands Nova Scotia is experiencing.

The new approach reflects more recent population projections, moves some health-care services away from the peninsular Halifax area and is broken into smaller components to allow the most pressing work to be completed as soon as possible.

It’s anticipated a new emergency department and patient tower at the Halifax Infirmary can be complete in five years. In combination with other work, this should allow the eventual closure of the aging and deteriorating Victoria General Hospital.

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