Queens Hospital getting ready to open the doors

Nick
Nick Moase
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After years of work and millions of dollars raised in the community, the Queens General Hospital Expansion will be opening the doors for the public to have a look on July 22.

The Queens General Hospital expansion will soon be opening, with ceremonies set for July 22. It will also be a chance for the public to see the hospital before patients start moving in. 

The opening ceremonies start outside at 1 p.m., with guest speakers giving speeches, Acadia First Nations performing a smudging ceremony, and refreshments served afterwards.

"We wanted to give the community a peek inside before we move patients," says Theresa Hawkesworth, director of communication with South Shore Health.

Then the public has the chance to tour the new spaces before the patients and services move in.

The tours will run from 2 to 5 p.m., and then from 6 to 8 p.m. Knowing there will be a lot of people interested in seeing the new space the parking lot next to St. Gregory's Catholic Church will be available, and a shuttle will be provided for people to travel back and forth.

Margo Walsh Leaman, the expansion's facility planning director, says things may not look completely finished when the public is touring the building, however they wanted to show the space to the public before services started moving over. That will begin soon after the official opening.  

The first will be blood collection, which will open in their new space on July 29. The registration desk will move over at that time as well, in order to help direct people to the new locations.

From then on the main entrance to the hospital will be moved to the new wing, which will also make it easier to drop off and pick people up.

"We didn't have a great drop off for people who just needed to drop someone off and pick them up," says Walsh-Leaman about the former configuration.

The parking gate will be reinstated at that time, with the $4 fee, though now to do drop offs drivers do not need to go through the gates.

After those services are settled in, patients will be moved to the 22 bed medical unit in the new section. When patients are moved, the rooms will be converted back into space for the various services, and grouped based on what needs to be close together.

Then services that are currently in the former Milton School, such as addiction services, mental health and palliative care will be shifted back to the hospital.

The final step is moving over the doctors that are joining the collaborative care unit.  Cognizant of the inconvenience this will cause to their patients, the doctors will stagger the moves over the course of several weeks.

"They really wanted to try and keep the disruption to a minimum for their patients," says Walsh-Leaman.

The expansion is the culmination of over 10 years of planning and negotiating. Eventually the expansion was green lit, with a $16 million budget.

A unique feature of the hospital expansion is how it was funded. About 84 per cent, or $13.5 million, came from the community. Of that, $7 million came from the Queens General Hospital Foundation and $4 million from an anonymous donor.

The remaining community funding came through the "Keeping Us Strong" campaign, which started in November 2011. In a little less than a year, the campaign hit their goal of $1.5 million, which came from over 800 donors.

To recognize all of the donors, and donar wall has been created by local designer Greg Tutty, and put together

Walsh-Leaman says it always bears repeating that the community has played a large role in getting the expansion built.

"The amazing support of the community financially, making sure this building is here and ensuring its longevity"

She also says the community has been very patient with the shuffled services while the construction has been ongoing.

"This has been a long process for the community and staff, and it's exciting to finally see it come to a successful conclusion."

Organizations: Acadia First Nations, Catholic Church, Milton School Queens General Hospital Foundation

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