The new $870-million hospital has officially opened its doors, taking over from the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Hospital as Grande Prairie’s acute care hospital. The facility serves the entire region with a full-service emergency department, 243 single-bed in-patient rooms including a 28-bed mental health unit, plus two radiation vaults to treat cancer patients who previously had to drive to Edmonton for radiation therapy.

“We all waited a long time for this moment, and have been through many challenges on the journey, but your patience has paid off as we celebrate this amazing and technologically advanced hospital in Alberta,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

“Public infrastructure projects like this technologically advanced new hospital are an important part of Alberta’s economy,” added Minister of Infrastructure Prasad Panda. “More than 400 people worked on site every day at the height of construction activity, bolstering businesses, contractors and families. Alberta Infrastructure is happy to have played a role in seeing this project completed.”

The Grande Prairie Regional Hospital includes:

  • 243 private in-patient rooms, 62 more than the QEII Hospital. These include a new 28-bed mental health unit and nine mental health beds dedicated to children and youth.
  • 11 operating rooms, five more than the QEII Hospital, including one dedicated obstetrical operating room for C-sections in the maternity unit and two operating rooms supported by the Alberta Surgical Initiative to drive down surgical wait times.
  • A state-of-the-art cancer centre with two radiation vaults, making Grande Prairie the fifth centre in Alberta – and the first in the north – to offer radiation therapy. Each year, the cancer centre expects 7,500 general visits (up 1,320), 3,500 chemotherapy visits (up 821) and 3,500 radiation therapy visits (all new).
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“It has been a challenging two years for everyone. We are incredibly proud of our health-care teams who continue to do all they can to care for our communities,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, AHS. “Opening a new hospital during this pandemic has been a triumph well worth celebrating. So far, there have been 316 babies born, 1,154 surgeries performed and countless lives touched at the new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital, and we look forward to caring for the region here well into the future.”

Plans are underway to create an Indigenous cultural space for prayers and ceremonies at the site, part of ongoing work to ensure the hospital provides culturally safe care for all. A teepee and Métis Red River cart will be placed in one of the courtyard areas.

“This new hospital is in the heart of Treaty No. 8 territory in which the city of Grande Prairie resides,” said Chief Ramona Horseman, Horse Lake First Nation. “First Nations, Inuit and Métis are pleased to do the ongoing work with our neighbours to provide culturally safe services, not only to our people but to those who have chosen to live here and be a part of Horse Lake’s culturally rich territory. This hospital serves as a soft start to building a foundation of trust for the future.”

The new building also includes a 4,000 square metre space where faculty at Grande Prairie Regional College, soon to be renamed Northwestern Polytechnic, and health professionals at the hospital will educate and train future nurses and other health-care professionals.

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Construction on most of the hospital was completed in the summer of 2020, with two additional operating rooms completed more recently with $20 million from the Alberta Surgical Initiative capital program. Before opening, AHS commissioned the facility, which included detailed cleaning of the entire building, ordering and installing furniture and equipment, training staff to use new medical equipment and systems and thorough testing of all systems to ensure things were running properly before being used for patient care.

The QEII site remains open for some ambulatory health-care services, including dialysis, community-based rehabilitation services and Mackenzie Place continuing care. AHS and Alberta’s government are also looking at other opportunities in the former hospital.

Featured image: (Alberta Health Services)

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