Infrastructure renos at CEEH to be completed with $1.3 million from province

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Artist rendering of the redesigned hospital from the corner of Dufferin and Blanche St.

Bluewater Health is getting more provincial funding to help deal with some of the infrastructure issues at Petrolia’s Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital.

The province is providing $1.3 million in a Hospital Infrastructure Renewal Grant this year – that’s about double what CEEH normally receives.

In 2018, hospital officials started making the case that Bluewater Health needed more cash to upgrade the critical electrical and heating and cooling systems at the Petrolia site. Since then, the province has provided about $1.5 million a year to help rebuild those systems.

Mike Lapaine, president of Bluewater Health, says this years work should finish up most of those renovations.

“It’s really allowed us to improve what patients don’t see but it’s critical for the operations of the hospital. And that’s all the things behind the walls,” he says.

“So, the bulk of this one will be used to finish off the boiler and the steam plant. So that’s a big piece of infrastructure for a hospital, which was very expensive, but we’ll have a brand new boiler and steam plant when this is over.”

That provides heat and steam for sterilization, Lapaine says.

He adds the grant “allows us to finish off some of the critical infrastructure prior to doing the redevelop, meaning that what we know now is, while we wait for the redevelopment to be approved, a lot of that critical infrastructure will be new. And then when we do the redevelopment, we will not be spending money on infrastructure, we will be spending money on patient facing areas.”

Lapaine says some of the $1.3 million this year will also be spent on the continued renovation of the 12 acute care rooms which are not accessible. Two of those rooms have already been completed.

All this is in preparation for the redevelopment of the emergency department. The hospital’s board recently sent the plans to the Ministry of Health and Lapaine is hopeful it will soon be approved and move into the more technical planning of the redvelopment.

“It’s now about a $12 million project that redevelopment and it’s really a complete reno of the current emergency department, which is really critical for us because our emergency department is quite old.”

The project has also been in the making for some time. Originally, the province announced it would provide about $7.5 million for the project as part of a 25 year development.

But with inflation hitting the construction industry hard, that number has ballooned to $12.

“We’ve shared those numbers with the ministry, they’re well aware of it there. They want to keep this as a small hospital project, which means they’re trying to keep their share under $10 million dollars. And at the moment that’s still in play that the ministry share is under that magical $10 million threshold,” he says.

The rest is expected to be raised in the community.