Cathy Bruyere was all smiles after learning renovations needed at the Gizhewaadiziwin Access Centre on Couchiching would go ahead.
“I think it’s very positive,” Bruyere said of Friday’s announcement that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. was providing $3.22 million in capital funding for health care centres across the region.
“We’ve been waiting for some support in doing several projects,” enthused Bruyere, executive director of the Fort Frances Tribal Health Authority, which received $13,870 for three projects at the access centre.
The money will be used for a freezer for biohazardous materials, landscaping to account for possible flooding, and minor renovations such as cabinets for more storage space.
“We’re pleased with everything the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has done for us in any of our projects,” noted Bruyere.
“It’s definitely a wonderful thing,” echoed Dr. Ewan Affleck of the Rainy River Medical Clinic, which was given $49,780 for a number of infrastructure upgrades, including new heating and fire alarm systems and energy-efficient lighting.
“This place is in poor shape—it’s in need of serious renovations and maybe a bit of a facelift,” he noted.
Dr, Affleck said the most important renovations would be the heating system and dealing with drainage problems in the basement, which has flooded before.
Likewise, the Emo Medical Clinic, located in the basement of the Emo hospital, received $50,000 for renovations that include wall and floor coverings, plumbing, electrical upgrades, and the installation of energy-efficient lighting
“It is a tolerable place to work in but it’s not up to ministry specification. Plus we have three doctors now so we need more room,” said Dr. John O’Sullivan.
“They’re going to completely gut it and then fix it up quite nice,” he noted, adding the renovations would begin next spring in conjunction with work on the rest of the hospital.
Emo hospital itself also was given funding—$350,000—to install new windows, a new scissor lift at the delivery entrance, and medical equipment.
Norma Elliott, director of services at Emo Health Centre, was not available for comment by press time.
Meanwhile, La Verendrye hospital here was given $345,929 for a number of infrastructure upgrades, including roof replacement and improvement to the air ventilation.
Wayne Woods, chief executive officer of Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc., also was not available for comment this week.
Despite being a new facility, Rainy River hospital also got $48,612 for renovations and to buy equipment, including a motorized wheelchair, EKG machine, and emergency room stretcher.
Northern Development and Mines minister Tim Hudak, who also is chair of the NOHFC, had stated Friday the funding was another sign the Ontario government ws committed to providing accessible, quality health care services to the region.
“Top-notch health care is essential to improving the quality of life and to attracting new economic development opportunities in the north’s smaller centres,” he remarked.