Grey County fulfilled a 15-year-old promise this week after handing over $780,000 to the Markdale Hospital project.
“Today's amount combined with the value of the land at $220,000 brings the total contribution to $1 million. These funds have been set aside in the reserve fund anticipating this contribution since 2006,” said Grey County Warden, Selwyn Hicks during a committee of the whole meeting held on Thursday.
Grey County donated the land for the new Markdale hospital site in 2005.
The total project value of the new hospital is estimated to be $69 million, with 10 per cent of the construction costs being funded by the Centre Grey Health Services Foundation through community donations, and 90 per cent being government-funded.
“But that is only the construction costs. So, when you look at the furniture, fixtures, all the equipment in this new hospital 100 per cent of that is coming from the community,” explained John Kurvink, vice president of performance and financial strategy, CFO for Grey Bruce Health Services.
The Centre Grey Health Services Foundation has undertaken the task of raising $12.5 million. Approximately $9.8 million of that has already been raised through community contributions and commitments from area municipalities and the county.
However, a gap of $2.7 million remains in the foundation's funding projections.
So, on the heels of the county’s check presentation, representatives from the foundation made an additional ask.
“We have come today to you today to ask if you would consider increasing your original pledge by 15 per cent. This would mean an additional amount of $150,000,” said Harvey Fraser, campaign chair.
Fraser and Kurvink both stated that the funding gap occurred due to the prolonged timeline of the project.
“This has been an over 20-year exercise that the organization and community has gone through to get this hospital,” said Kurvink, adding that contributions have wavered over that time due to uncertainty in the project.
Grey County council accepted the request for additional funding and referred it to its Healthcare Initiatives Task Force for consideration in the 2022 budget. The task force is set to hold its next meeting in September.
“The current Centre Grey Hospital serves as an important rural service hub, and this new facility will help them continue to serve our community with modern equipment and room to grow,” Hicks said.
As for progress at the site of the new hospital, construction began in March and to-date the excavation work and road construction has been completed, as well as the installation of the sanitary sewers.
Moving forward, project coordinators anticipate completing the foundation work this summer and the exterior walls and roof are expected to be complete by the Spring of 2022.
The elevator system is slated to be installed in the Fall of 2022 and the building has a scheduled completion date of Spring 2023.
Project representatives say it will then take several months to move the furniture and equipment into the building but they hope to open the doors to the public in late 2023, early 2024.
Once completed the new facility will house: a 24/7 emergency room, eight exam rooms and a treatment room, four patient rooms, palliative care, physiotherapy, a procedure room, diagnostic imaging, ambulatory care, a lab, a cafe, and a spiritual centre.
The facility will also include “undesignated flex space on the ground floor for future expansion”.
“When the dust settles, we expect that staffing numbers could very well increase. The building was designed with the ability to increase size and numbers as population and demand increases,” said Fraser.
Currently, the hospital employs 90 full-time and part-time staff members, two permanent physicians and has six-to-eight locums covering ER shifts.
“All indications are with a new modern facility and with all this ambulatory care space, it's going to really help recruit professionals to the area,” Kurvink continued.
The current hospital facility in Markdale reports having 12,700 annual ER visits, 6,700 radiology procedures, and processes 300,000 lab procedures and 1,900 diagnostic tests annually.
“We don't see anything other than growth for this area and certainly there's a lot of people migrating from the GTA into Grey County and so we think this hospital is going to be quite busy,” Kurvink added.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca