ARICHAT: An expansion and renovation project is underway at a nursing and health care facility in this community.

St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre in Arichat is in the midst of two projects, one includes an expansion of the facility’s dining area.

“We’re expanding that only because our numbers haven’t gone up but the clientele that we get have such large pieces of equipment these days,” St. Anne administrator Annette Fougere explained. “Wheelchairs are bigger, walkers are more plentiful. About 10, 15 years ago, we had people who were independently mobile and we have very few of these people anymore.”

As part of that project, the adjacent loading and storage area is also being expanded to increase safety and efficiency.

“On the back of that, we’re also putting a loading area for our maintenance gentlemen, for supplies,” Fougere noted. “It gets it out of the rain. We don’t really have a place we can do that. It usually ends up being in hallways.”

The second project is the expansion of the activity space for residents and visitors. To do this, the therapeutic garden and an adjoining deck built around the garden, on the west side of the building, were dismantled.

“It’ll be almost three times as large as what it is now,” Fougere said of the new space. “We don’t have a private place for worship of any kind, or quiet areas for the residents. We hope to be able to let families have gatherings in there, celebrating birthdays and things like that. It’ll be quite nice when it’s done.”

St. Anne Centre currently has 24 Continuing Care beds, and five beds through Veteran’s Affairs. The facility has between 60 and 70 employees, as well as outpatient and emergency departments. The services offered through the Arichat facility include X-ray, lab, nursing and physician services, the diabetic education centre, and satellite clinics. Two physicians support the nursing centre and emergency department. There is a heli-pad next to the centre, as well as the Emergency Health Services base.

Photo by Jake Boudrot
Plans are underway to expand the dining area and activity space at St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre in Arichat.

Initially, St. Anne’s stakeholders attempted to have the 30-year-old building replaced. or possibly relocated under private or public ownership. Once it was realized those options were not feasible, the facility’s supporters decided to move in this direction.

St. Anne has received funding from the Department of Health and Wellness for the projects, Fougere noted, adding the facility is also financially supported by the St. Anne Centre Society, as well as the St. Anne Centre Ladies Auxiliary which has already raised almost $30,000 for the furnishings in the new activity space.

Plans for the renovations were completed by Gail Hearn and are currently being reviewed by a structural engineer and a mechanical engineer. After that, the plans will be submitted to the Fire Marshall, who will then share them with the health department.

Fougere hopes they are able to call both tenders, award them to the same company, and possibly break ground this fall.

“If we can get that tight to the weather before the weather gets bad for the winter, then they can work on the inside during the winter season,” the administrator said.

“We’re hoping to be able to tender both of these projects at the same time and award them to the same company. We think we’ll find financial efficiencies that way and having the project move along more smoothly. When one is done, the other will be started without much delay.”

After those projects, Fougere said the plan is to fence-off the front yard of the facility and rebuild the therapeutic garden. She said St. Anne already has a financial commitment from a private donor to help pay for the new fencing.

Also on the horizon is the expected transfer of responsibility for the veteran’s beds from Veteran’s Affairs Canada to the provincial Department of Health.

As for the current renovation, Fougere added there will be minimal disruptions for residents, staff and the general public.

“This project will be less negatively impactful because these are structures that are outside of where they’re living now so we’re not encroaching on their living space,” she noted. “We’ll have to do our activities, maybe a little differently for a few months, but that’s quite doable.”