Grande Prairie Regional Hospital ready to welcome new patients

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By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

It’s been 10 years in the making, but the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital (GPRH) will open its doors Dec. 4.
As of 6 a.m. that day, QEII Hospital will no longer accept patients; those that are there will be transferred to the new facility in 13-16 EMS vehicles. The transfer operation is expected to take approximately 18 hours to complete, said Candice Edey, Alberta Health Services (AHS) operational lead for GPRH.
AHS has partnered with the City of Grande Prairie to ensure that the route is well maintained and that any snow is cleared.
Edey said many crews will be involved in the move to ensure everyone's safety, with specialty crews including advanced life support on site to transfer ICU patients.
Though the opening of the long-awaited facility is welcome news, concerns about staffing the expansive hospital persist.
“We're doing our best in terms of recruiting staff,” said Stacey Greening, AHS senior operation officer for Grande Prairie and area.
“There's global shortages for healthcare providers right now, and that's not unique to Grande Prairie.”
In July, Grande Prairie nurses raised the alarm that beds were closed in the QEII due to staffing shortages. They questioned how the region would staff the new larger hospital when it couldn’t staff the current one.
Greening said that the new construction has helped with recruitment as people want to work in the new facility.
“We're going to continue to recruit,” she said. “No hospital gets to an endpoint for recruitment.”
AHS took possession of the $850 million facility in July 2020 for commissioning and staff training.
The hospital broke ground in July 2011 and was plagued with multiple construction delays.
Though some have voiced concerns about equipment ageing out as the facility took longer than expected to build, Greening says equipment wasn’t brought in until after the keys were handed to AHS.
“Most of the equipment is new and so we are moving some of our equipment over from the QEII, but it's the equipment we're currently using,” she said.
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A new CT scanner at the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital (GPRH) in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. GPRH was plagued with delays and will finally be open to patients on Dec. 4. (Photo by Jesse Boily)

“This was a long construction project; however, we do believe it's going to be worth the wait,” said Greening.
She noted that the addition of a mental health unit and other additional medical units happened after AHS took possession last summer.
Greening says some of the key enhancements to the GPRH are the pediatric and youth mental health focus, 11 operating rooms, and cancer care with...continued.

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