The longtime vice-president of corporate affairs at the Carboner General Hospital, George Butt, said the eight-storey health institution is in a "much stronger state" these days because of significantly greater investments into areas such as equipment, repairs and renovations.
Butt made the comment on Wednesday, Oct. 17, during an event that saw Health and Community Services Minister Susan Sullivan announce another $1.3 million in funding for the hospital.
He noted that during much of the 1990s, the capital budget for all health care facilities in places such as Carbonear, Placentia, Whitbourne and Old Perlican was roughly $300,000.
"It was a tough slug," Butt recalled. "But we're in a different place now, for sure."
In contrast, the hospital site is bustling with activity these days.
A new 250-bed long-term care facility is scheduled for completion in late 2014 at a cost of more than $100 million, and plenty of upgrades are underway inside the hospital.
"This will strengthen both access to and the quality of care we provide to our patients," Butt said of the most recent funding announcement.
Here's a breakdown of where the new money will be spent.
• The hospital will receive $830,000 for new and ongoing renovation projects and upgrades. This funding will be used to:
1. continue replacement of the air handling unit;
2. continue the extension of the medical gas delivery system; and,
3. expand the pharmacy space.
Butt described the current situation in the pharmacy as a "major staff safety issue."
• The hospital will also benefit from $458,400 for new equipment, including:
1. operating room microscope;
2. patient controlled pain regulation pumps;
3. bed replacements; and,
4. two ears, nose and throat scopes.
The Harbour Lodge Nursing Home will also receive $8,000 for a bed lift system.
In making the announcement, Minister Sullivan emphasized that the province is striving to find ways to be more efficient and effective in the delivery of health care and other services.
She noted that 40 per cent of the province's overall budget, some $3 billion, is spent on health care.
"We can't expect more than 40 per cent of the budget for health care," she said. "Right now, we are spending $5,077 per person on health care.
"That's not sustainable. We have to find a way to do it better and deliver and same quality services that we always have."
In the nine years since the Progressive Conservative party have been leading the government, she noted that some $20 million have been invested into health care facilities in Carbonear. Another $23 million was allotted this year to continue construction on the new long-term care centre.
She referenced a long list of investments into health care facilities and services throughout the province, but added, "we have to make sure that from now on and into the future we get the maximum benefit from every dollar spent in this province."
She also pointed to the ongoing debate over the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador, describing it as "the project that helps us to deliver the kind of care in terms of health care that we want."
Meanwhile, Carbonear-Harbour Grace Jerome Kennedy also welcomed the announcement, saying, “As a government we recognize the importance of keeping services closer to home and these initiatives will help to improve the quality of health care for residents all over the area.”