The Boundary Trails Health Centre Foundation (BTHCF) has reached a major milestone in the BTHC expansion project.
Thursday morning, a crowd of people gathered on the north side of the facility's parking lot for a ceremonial groundbreaking for a project that has been in the works for 10 years.
Minister of Health, Audrey Gordon, shared the long-awaited news.
"Today, we are here to announce construction will start on an expansion at Boundary Trails Health Center that will add new acute care inpatient beds, and provide larger, more modern space for patient care programs. Construction crews are currently preparing the site for the project's first phase, a two-story community service building and a two-story inpatient building adjacent to the current facility."
Minister Gordon described what will be going into the new building.
"This new community services building will house a number of existing programs currently located elsewhere in the community, or in acute care areas of the health care center, including public health, midwifery, a hospital pharmacy, a retail pharmacy and other complementary retail services. Moving existing programs into the new building will provide larger spaces for several departments and programs, such as surgery, cancer services, emergency, medical device processing, ambulatory care and diagnostic services."
Minister Gordon thanked healthcare providers, and said they are still heroes, providing care on the front lines, thanking the staff at BTHC for their tireless efforts to keep Manitobans safe.
Southern Health-Santé Sud CEO, Jane Curtis, shared what this announcement means for patient care in the Pembina Valley.
"The expansion of acute care, inpatient capacity and community services will strengthen the network of resources that make Boundary Trails Health Center an important hub of medical services. These projects will bring us one step closer to meeting the long term needs of this growing area by providing access to high quality specialized care, closer to home."
Curtis mentioned, earlier this month, a ceremonial land blessing had taken place led by Elder Ken McKinney from Swan Lake First Nation, noting this was an important first step in embarking on the construction of the building.
Finance Minister, and MLA for Morden-Winkler, Cameron Friesen said it was incredibly exciting to be at BTHC for this really important step along the way in the expansion of the hospital.
"We know how busy this hospital is and how important to the community it is. It was exciting a year ago when we first announced an almost $70 million expansion. People were pleased, but I think today seeing it really begin to take shape, knowing that construction will be on site in just a few days, and seeing the Foundation is launching their fund-raising campaign, it makes it very real."
At least $64.4 million will be invested in the project, with the Boundary Trails Health Foundation contributing $10 million towards the initiative. The expansion builds upon a project advanced by the Foundation and other local community leaders.
BTHCF Chairperson Ben Friesen said the expansion is a necessary step toward ensuring they provide high quality, sustainable patient care for many years to come. He recognized two donors who have made significant donations to kick-off the $10 million fundraising campaign. Morden Thrift Store has donated $1 million, and Morden residents, the late Bill Lyne and his widow Colleen, donated $750,000.
Friesen shared his remarks of gratitude for the regional support they have received since the Foundation started advocating for this expansion project.
"I cannot say enough about the R.M. of Stanley, the cities of Winkler and Morden, and surrounding communities. Your support shows that all things worthwhile are possible. and that truly good things do happen to vibrant and involved communities. Thank you."
"(It is) a day of days," said Morris Olafson, Reeve for the R.M. of Stanley. "Three to five years from now. when it's all put together and all working, we will know we did right. We did right by pushing people. and by keeping in everybody's face that we need this facility, we want this facility, and we can make it work. Now it's going to come to fruition."
"To see this thing come together at the end of my term...it's probably been more than ten years that I've sat on that committee trying to design and figure a way in which we can do this," said Martin Harder, the outgoing Mayor for the City of Winkler. "So, it feels very good to see this come to completion. On a personal note, my previous wife had a lot of health issues. I know the many trips I've taken into Winnipeg in order to give her the services required, and I look at the investment as a community, and just to see that those services may be able to be provided here is going to be a huge difference to the economy, and bringing people into the community. So, as municipalities, to get involved - it just makes sense."
"It's an absolutely fantastic day," added Morden Mayor Brandon Burley. "Certainly, we've realized over the last number of years, how vulnerable we are to healthcare issues, and we've been able to identify our needs. As our population changes and grows, it's great to be able to see additional services and supports in the region, so people can access care a lot closer to home."