A great day for northern Haida Gwaii: Health Minister George Abott

  • Oct. 29, 2008 11:00 a.m.

By Jeff King–It couldn’t have worked out better. The weather cooperated, the twenty-five off-island guests and dignitaries were able to fly in, the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky, and the north end’s superb new hospital and health care facility had its grand opening without a hitch.The facility, which cost about $11-million, is between Masset and Old Massett, and will serve those communities plus Port Clements with its four acute care and four long term care beds. It also will contain all north end health services, including public health, home and community care, along with mental health, emergency services and diagnostics. It has been the dream of many in the three communities for years, and on Saturday, that dream became a reality.Health Services Minister George Abbott thanked the Haida First Nation for the opportunity to meet on their traditional territory and said he brought greetings from all his colleagues in the Legislative Assembly.”This is an extremely beautiful facility,” Mr. Abbott said, adding that everyone who had a hand in building it must be feeling exceptionally proud.The new facility, Mr. Abbott said, “ensures that residents will receive high-quality health care across the range of services.””It is a great day for northern Haida Gwaii,” the minister said, “It’s a great day for all of BC,” the minister said.Chief Iljuuwaas-Reynold Russ said “today is a wonderful day. It is wonderful to see all of you here. I want to thank you for being here. We are witnesses of a beautiful building. It is wonderful to see. We are very thankful for this to happen to us in New Masset and Massett. It’s wonderful when people sit down together and talk about the needs of the people. Howa, thank you very much,” he said.Old Massett Village Chief Councillor Elizabeth Moore said she has to get used to the hospital zone (on the road).”I recently went from my house and I was zooming through a hospital zone. Howa to all the community members who put their heart and soul into this. It’s a dream of twenty years or so,” she said.Masset Mayor Barry Pages said the grand opening is a culmination of many years of work by the three communities, adding that the vision has been shared by previous mayors, including Nick Grosse and Dave Penna. He also thanked the people involved in the project from the minister to the construction company.It is so much more than a building, it represents our dedication to find innovative solutions,” Mr. Pages said, “it is a testament to the spirit and determination of our communities.Port Clements Mayor Cory Delves kept his remarks brief and to the point and specifically thanked all the volunteers who put time into getting the new building going.Tony Briglio, Chair of the North West Regional hospital District called the project “unique” and “outside the box.””We are leaders for creating solutions for our communities,” he said, adding that “this is a new era in health care.”.Northern Health CEO Cathy Ulrich noted this was the first time that Northern Health, in its brief history, had ever opened a new hospital facility, and said “it cannot be done without pulling in the same direction.”She praised the tenacity of Mayor Pages, and called the new facility “a unique opportunity to bring all our services to one site, under one roof.”The surprise announcement of the morning was the naming of two areas within the facility for local people.The Alfred Adams Community Health services Area recognizes the contributions Mr. Adams made to the communities, while the Grace Frost Acute and Complex Care Area honours her long time work as a nurse.With that, it was time for cake-lots of it-and refreshments, as staff got back to the task of moving and unpacking, even as the celebration continued.The facility is 2,280 square metres, and was financed as a public-private partnership, with the three north end communities borrowing $5.7-million of the required money, then leasing the facility to Northern Health. The hospital district contributed $4.25 million, while the province kicked in just over $1-million.

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