Work begins on new Norman Wells health facilities

Work begins on new Norman Wells health facilities
Drummers mark the start of construction on two new health facilities in Norman Wells last Wednesday at a feeding the fire ceremony.Photo: Dorothy Westerman.

After years of living with an outdated health care facility and no space for long-term care, the town of Norman Wells and the entire Sahtu region will have access to two brand-new, state of the art health facilities by 2016.

Construction on the new Norman Wells Health and Social Services Centre and long-term care facility, totalled at $35 million, began last Wednesday afternoon with a feeding the fire ceremony and community feast to mark the occasion in Norman Wells.

The new health centre replaces the 36 year-old current facility, while the long-term care facility creates 18 beds for people who can no longer live in their homes and require full-time support, both of which were badly needed.

“They have not had a regional long-term care facility in the Sahtu before,” said Derek Elkin, assistant deputy minister of corporate services with the department of Health and Social Services.

“The health centre was built in 1978, so it’s 36 years old and it’s got to the point in the life of the building where it would cost more to continue renovating and maintaining it than to build new, so we’re going to get a modern health centre, built to current standards and the current way of delivering health care,” Elkin said.

“We’re also building it to support potential expansion in services for the next 50 years, so we’re not going to quickly outgrow it.”

Existing health and social services – located in separate spaces in the community, at present – will be brought together with the creation of the new building.

“We’re putting everything under one roof so they’re all consolidated and people can work together as an integrated system,” Elkin said.

While the long-term care facility will not be attached, it will be connected for mechanical reasons on the same grounds as the health centre.

The 18 beds will be available to people from across the entire Sahtu region, or help to support people from other regions where there are waitlists.

Contracts for the design and construction have been awarded to the Tulita District Investment Corp. and Yellowknife-based Clark Builders.

Construction is expected to start this month with final completion of the two facilities slated for sometime in 2016.

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