By ANDREW WAREING
After two years on life support, the stalled Sudbury Regional Hospital reconstruction project has received a much-needed injection of cash from the Ontario government.
On Aug. 18, Ontario Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation Jim Flaherty announced the project would be receiving an additional $83.3 million to complete the project, bringing the government’s contribution to $196.3 million.
The money represents 70 per cent of the project’s cost, says Sudbury Regional Hospital president and chief executive officer (CEO) Vickie Kaminski, who anticipates construction of Phase 2 to start in March 2004.
“We do have to do some redesign, but not a lot,” says Kaminski. “They also announced consolidating long-term care on the St. Joe’s Villa site at Laurentian University so we will be moving 64 beds. It’s going to mean great patient care.”
Hospital supervisor Graham Scott says, while the hospital’s two new towers are completed, there is still work that has to be done on several diagnostic and operating areas in the new addition, as well as plans for an updated and larger emergency room.
Kaminski says the hospital has had “significant issues” to deal with that have stalled construction over the past two years. They involved a “burgeoning” hospital operating deficit, a large working capital deficit and a “capital construction project that was out of control.”
An operational review of the hospital’s operations and the construction project was done to find places where costs could be cut, she says.
“The Ministry of Health took a serious look at that and, before they would agree to spend more money, they said they needed to be satisfied that we were back operating as we should,” says Kaminski. “They’re satisfied that we’re back on track so they are giving us the additional dollars...it’s a great vote of confidence by the Ontario government.”
Although the province and the hospital have covered much of the construction costs, there are still equipment needs that may require lease agreements or bond, she says.