HALIFAX: The MLA for Cape Breton-Richmond wants to know how much money the government is willing to spend on upgrades to the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

On September 28 in the Nova Scotia Legislature, Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon asked Minister of Health and Wellness Randy Delorey why the community is expected to raise “the balance” of the $2.3 million for renovations to the Evanston-based health care facility.

Paon pointed out that the Strait-Richmond Hospital was built in the early 1980s and doesn’t have accessible washrooms, or washrooms in the emergency department, and there is an urgent need for extensive upgrades.

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“Literally patients are having to use a commode if they can’t get to the washroom,” Paon told the house. “Patients visiting a surgeon have to first walk through the emergency department…”

Delorey responded that after meeting with hospital foundations across the province, the department has decided to make some changes.

“They made a number of requests about the approach that we take as a government when it comes to working on capital campaigns and expectations, how we roll out, in partnership with these organizations, capital fundraising,” Delorey told the house. “We’ve made several changes in the last year in line with what we’ve been asked to do.”

In her supplemental question, Paon noted that last year at the Strait-Richmond there were 28,264 registrations, 609 in-patient admissions and 9,577 emergency admissions despite frequent closures of the emergency department.

“This is an important hospital to our area,” Paon stated. “The catchment area is not only Cape Breton-Richmond, it’s Inverness, it’s Guysborough and it’s also actually within the health minister’s district of Antigonish. I get phone calls from that area as well about how important this hospital is.”

The Progressive Conservative MLA asked Delorey how much the province is willing to put into the hospital.

“We have a private donation of $300,000,” Paon told the house. “The hospital foundation is willing to put in $300,000 as well. What is the minister willing to put into the $2.3 million to renovate the Strait Richmond Hospital?”

In acknowledging that health care infrastructure is very important to all communities, Delorey added that the province relies on the recommendations of the Nova Scotia Health Authority to target areas for investment.

“That’s how we prioritize,” Delorey responded. “We then move forward with our budget to invest in those projects that we can. We’ll continue to knock projects off that list as we move forward.”