Members of the Strait Richmond Healthcare Foundation accepted a $100,000 donation from Clearwater Seafoods at the lobster holding facility in Cap Auguet on November 23.

ARICHAT: Clearwater Seafood is giving $100,000 towards a major renovation project at the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

“It was with great honour that myself and the Arichat Clearwater family were able to be part of this donation to such a great cause,” said plant manager Alfred Richard.

Businessman Joe Shannon has been helping spearhead the fundraising effort over the past two years to help pay for the $1.3 construction project at the Evanston health care facility.

“We are very, very appreciative of the generosity of Clearwater and all of their employees. The hospital plays a major role in the lives of all of the people in eastern Nova Scotia, and particularly in Arichat,” Shannon told The Reporter.

Shannon recalls that after he spoke with Clearwater’s Colin MacDonald, the company agreed to the donation on behalf of its employees.

“I think the employees they get a lot of use out of the hospital, it’s always there in case of an emergency at your factory,” he recalled.

Shannon said the Strait-Richmond Hospital is a 40-year-old building that needs work.

“Unfortunately, we all got 40 years older and we have different kinds of ailments today than we used to have 40 years ago,” Shannon said. “What we need in the health services are more complicated; people have gall bladder problems, people have heart problems, people have bowel problems, people have cancer issues, so they’re a little bit different when we built the hospital.”

After staring planning in 2018 and going through various designs and reviews, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) confirmed that work on the 15-bed facility is underway under the direction of Brilun Construction of Sydney. Construction started in September, with the end of all work expected in the late spring

The work includes renovations to the emergency department, laboratory and specimen collection, as well as the registration area. The registration area at the main entrance will be renovated to accommodate registration for admitting, lab services and diagnostic imaging (X-ray). All registration for lab and diagnostic imaging (X-ray) appointments will take place there.

The old lab space will be renovated to include updated lab space, as well as two ambulatory care rooms. Currently, patients who need ambulatory care are seen in the emergency department so the renovations will provide a dedicated space for visiting specialists to hold clinics and see patients.

As a result of the renovations to the hospital, Shannon said the hope is that more specialists can be attracted to set up shop in Richmond County, meaning fewer residents having to travel for appointments.

“If we can build this facility and encourage more specialists to come to this area, and feel comfortable, safe and secure with the level of care we can provide here, with the technology that we have to help out in more serious situations, then the better off we’re all going to be,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about having a specialist meeting in Halifax, or somewhere else, in February.”

The NSHA said the work will be done using a phased approach. This current phase is expected to take between five and six months to complete and departments will return to their renovated spaces as they are completed.

The next phase of work will begin within the emergency department. That work includes relocating the triage area inside the department and reconfiguring the department’s nursing station. According to the NSHA, washrooms will also be updated.

The renovations are a partnership between the NSHA and the Strait-Richmond Health Care Foundation and will cost approximately $1.3 million. Nova Scotia Health is contributing $650,000 to the project, while the foundation has, so far, raised $960,547.60 from corporate and private donations.

“It has been a labour of love but we are really excited to see the work underway,” said Aurine Richard, fundraising coordinator for the foundation. “Once we started the planning and fundraising, it was easy to see what a difference this project will make for the patients, staff, physicians and the community as a whole. I think the community will be quite pleased with the results once the work is done.”

In addition to Clearwater, Shannon added that the Royal Bank of Canada will donate $200,000, the Bank of Nova Scotia $100,000 and the Bank of Montreal $100,000.