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Riverside ‘delighted’ over funding for hospital upgrades

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Proposed renovations at La Verendrye hospital here and at the Emo Health Centre got a $4.7-million boost from the provincial government Monday and that has a lot of people smiling.

“Certainly, we’re delighted to hear the good news,” said Wayne Woods, chief executive officer of Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc.

“We’ve been working on [getting the funding] for a couple years. It’s good the government recognizes our health care needs in the north,” he noted.

“It’s great to get it going. We’re so happy,” enthused Norma Elliott, director of services at the Emo Health Centre.

“We seemed to have pursued it for so long. Now that we have it, we can work towards the long-term care which we need so badly,” she added.

As first reported in Monday’s Daily Bulletin, up to $2.9 million is being provided to upgrade the emergency room and surgical suite at La Verendrye, as well as to enhance its laboratory facilities and diagnostic imaging technology.

The other $1.8 million will be used to convert most of the space at the Emo Health Centre to provide improved long-term care access there.

Specific renovations will include a more comfortable and modern living environment with better wheelchair access, more common room space, and better accommodation.

“The Emo facility certainly needs to be developed. It’s in need of long-term care capability and this will definitely work towards that,” said Woods.

“The refurbishment of these hospitals will greatly enhance our ability to provide the best possible health centre for the people of our community,” he stressed.

The funding comes in response to the recommendations of the Northwest District Health Council, the government said.

In related news, the Riverside Foundation for Health Care likely will shift its focus in the near future after working for several years to raise money locally for the renovations.

“I understand the government covers 75 percent of the total costs of the projects [an estimated $3.9 million for La Verendrye and $2.4 million for the Emo Health Centre] and the remaining 25 percent remains up to us,” noted Foundation chairman Clare Brunetta.

“Now, we can look for a more short-term, rather than long-term, campaign.

“This is the type of thing we’ve been waiting for. Now we’re looking forward to trying to raise what’s needed,” he enthused.

Ironically, though, Woods noted news of the provincial funding could make it tougher for the Foundation to raise the necessary dollars locally.

“It might be a little harder for the Riverside Foundation to get out there and raise that bit of money now,” he admitted.

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