On May 7, I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of the Irene and Leslie Dubé Centre for Mental Health. This event marked the culmination of years of planning and hard work by many people to create a safer, more client and family-centred care environment for people with mental illnesses and addictions. While touring the facility with Minister of Health Don McMorris, I spoke to several clients and staff members who described what a difference this beautiful building, with some of the best views in the city, is making to the people who receive care and to the dedicated staff who provide that care. Staff described how the care teams from Saskatoon City Hospital and Royal University Hospital are working together to harmonize their practices and adopt an interprofessional model of care that includes enhanced services on evenings and weekends.

This new facility is one of many examples of the progress Saskatoon Health Region has made this year to achieve our goal of a sustainable infrastructure plan for acute care and long-term care facilities. Our capital projects are part of our strategic direction of building a sustainable, integrated health system. We should acknowledge and celebrate our accomplishments on a number of fronts.

We will soon open our newly renovated Oncology/Hematology/Blood and Marrow (Stem Cell) Transplant Unit on RUH 6100. This unit will provide a much safer environment for cancer patients, including those receiving stem cell transplants, who have compromised immune systems that make them highly vulnerable to infections. The unit also gives Saskatchewan the facility it needs to eventually care for most patients who receive donor stem cell transplants. Currently, some of these individuals and their families must leave the province or the country for months at a time to receive that care. The new unit includes positive-pressure rooms and other design features which provide a much safer, patient-centred care environment.

Another big project for us this year has been renovations to the critical care units at RUH. The expanded coronary care unit is already complete and renovations to the intensive care unit are underway. These projects will provide badly needed additional critical care capacity which will enhance patient safety and patient flow.

Another long awaited capital project is the new Humboldt District Health Complex that will house the Humboldt District Hospital and Community Health Services. This project, developed with the financial support of generous donors from Humboldt and many local communities, will enable us to colocate hospital and community services such as home care, mental health and addictions services, and public health. We expect to take occupancy this fall.

This year we have also been working hard to address the need for additional long term care beds. We are on track to open 67 new beds at Oliver Lodge in November. This will provide a more appropriate setting for patients awaiting long-term care services and will relieve pressure on our acute care beds. We are continuing to plan for replacement of Manitou Lodge, and will soon issue the tender for construction of this new facility in Watrous. On May 12, the Authority signed an agreement with Amicus Health Care Inc., which is building a new 100-unit long-term care facility in Saskatoon.

One of our largest projects, the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan, has required a lot of our time and attention this year. The expert panel established to confirm the site for the hospital will make its recommendation by mid-June. A great deal of work is taking place behind the scenes as we work with clinical leaders, facilities staff, planners and architects to develop evidence to inform the panel’s decision. Our planning process includes consultation with staff and the public. More information about how you can share your views is available at www.chssitevalidation.wordpress.com.

In addition to these major projects, there have been many other projects, all intended to provide a safer, more patient and family-centred care environment and workplace. For example, we replaced one of our cardiac catheterization units this year and improved space for families waiting for loved ones undergoing surgery at RUH. We have also significantly improved our project management to ensure the appropriate oversight and coordination to ensure appropriate stewardship of our resources.

We can be very proud of the progress we have made this year, which is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of many people, including Health Region staff and physicians, our patients, clients, residents and their families, our foundations and generous donors. In the year ahead, we will continue to work together to enhance the facilities in which we provide our care and services.