Premier Tim Houston cut the ribbon yesterday on a $260 million health care facility that expects to see 280,000 visits a year.
The land for the Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre was purchased from Banc Developments by the McNeil government in 2017. In 2020, that Liberal government signed a contract with EllisDon to build and maintain the facility for the next 30 years after an external consultant’s report suggested the deal should save about $35 million.
While initiated by the previous Liberal government, Houston took credit for seeing the outpatient clinic come to fruition. “We are moving the needle on health care,” he said. “Nova Scotians elected us to fix health care. We’re doing it by chipping away — one solution at a time. We’re also pushing longer-term solutions.”
Dr. Alex Mitchell, the vice-president of healthcare infrastructure at Build Nova Scotia, told the audience attending the official opening the facility was built “on time and on budget.”
The clinic’s doors open to the public Monday, as reported last month by the Halifax Examiner. The outpatient facility allows patients to pre-book xrays, ultrasounds, and blood work as well as consults with physiotherapists and orthopedic specialists.
Eye services will move from Cobequid Emergency Outpatient clinic in Sackville to Bayers Lake.
The renal dialysis unit at the Victoria General hospital will transfer to Bayers Lake and expand to include 24 chairs.
Under the previous Liberal government, the crumbling VG — where conditions have been described by doctors as “Third World” — was targeted for demolition by 2022.
The Bayers Lake clinic, with easy access from Highways 102 and 103, will allow people from St. Margarets Bay and the South Shore to avoid the congested downtown area of Halifax. The Metro Transit #28 bus stops across the street from the clinic.
The first new health facility in the Halifax area in a decade was described “as a beacon of hope for the future” by Dr. Christy Bussey, the Central zone’s medical executive director. Bayer’s Lake is supposed to relieve some of the pressure on existing facilities and give people quicker access to care.
One of the “longer term solutions” Houston referred to is the ongoing planning for a new hospital, emergency department, and cancer centre to be built at the corner of Robie Street and Bell Road. The Examiner was told the design is still in the process of being revamped to take into consideration a fast growing population.
The facility to replace the VG will take years to build. Last week, Colton LeBlanc, the minister responsible for health care infrastructure, confirmed the province intends to sign a P3 contract with Plenary Health by the end of March next year. Cost estimates should be revealed then.
Meanwhile, the number of Nova Scotians without a family doctor or nurse practitioner continues to increase. Nearly 2000 people added their names to the ‘need a family practice’ roster last month. The wait list now stands at 146, 451 Nova Scotians, or 15% of the population.
The government has released an app called YourHealthNS that is designed to help people find mobile health clinics in their communities and access on-line care appointments with doctors and nurse practitioners working in Nova Scotia. Anyone can sign up here.