An overflow crowd was on hand last Friday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of the new Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre that began three years ago with the turning of the sod.
The new facility, built at a cost of $20 million, now features more than 2,500 square metres of new space along with an additional 700 square metres of renovated space and replaces the former hospital built in 1949.
“If every day was this enjoyable as health minister, this would be the best job in the world. I was very sincere in my remarks when I said this is a model where the community, the medical staff, the government all came together, and what a wonderful result,” said Ron Liepert, Minister of Health and Wellness. “This is a really proud day for everybody who lives here. It is a model that we should be looking at around the province. Congratulations to area residents, staff and everyone involved in this project. I am confident this new facility will meet the health needs of area residents for many years to come.”
In acknowledging the provincial government is under tremendous pressure and scrutiny in the delivery of health services in Alberta, Liepert said the opening of the hospital should go a long way in showing a major commitment to rural health care.
“I guess there’s a couple of things; number one, there is so much fear being spread by certain groups around the future of rural health care, and if this facility, and what we’re doing here in Rimbey, isn’t confirmation that rural health care has an opportunity to play a greater role in the delivery of health care not a lesser role, I don’t know how else we can demonstrate that,” he said.
I again come back to the fact that when this facility was designed there was lots of ‘wants’ out there, but everybody put their heads together and said ‘we can’t have all of the wants, so let’s design a facility that meets the absolute needs of this community and meets them well’, and that’s what I see in this facility,” Liepert added.
The new hospital includes 23 acute care beds, 84 continuing care beds, expanded emergency, diagnostic imaging, laboratory, admitting, health information services and labour/delivery areas. New space has also been added for mental health and community care as well as improved hospital access.
“This is a huge day for Rimbey and I can’t say enough of the provincial support that made this happen and all of the organizations, physicians, nurses, David Thompson Health Region, the town, ministers and MLA’s that put this project in the ground and put the money there,” said Mayor Dale Barr. “New rural hospitals in Alberta haven’t been constructed for many years before this project received funding and certainly we see that they’re (Alberta Health Services) looking to this model to see how successful it is and we know we’ve got the right community to show it off.”
And while he acknowledged the hospital’s staff and government for their efforts, he also had plenty of good things to say about local businesses and individuals who dug deep when the call went out.
“It goes back to the bed project that started when we were in a hospital with acute care that didn’t have enough power to run powered beds for proper care of the patients, and it was kind of an igniter to take it one notch higher and the community came out big to support that project,” Barr said. “During the renovation project, they came out big again to support it, but that’s Rimbey’s people. Rimbey’s people always come up big to support projects. We’re a strong community and everybody recognizes the value of what we have and they’re not shy in supporting it with dollars.
“In my mind this is a signature day, not only for Rimbey, but for the province and certainly should be showcased as a good working model in Alberta,” Barr said. “Health care is under review right now in a number of different areas and we do have a showcase of great staff, physicians, nurses and now a facility that meets what they deliver.”