The new health care facility in Sanikiluaq is anticipated to start serving clients by January 2021. This past February during the legislative sitting, Health Minister George Hickes informed Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt the aim was to open the facility this October.

The building is in its fourth year of construction, and is yet to be completed.

The new health care facility in Sanikiluaq is in its fourth year of construction and aims to be opened by January 2021, says the Department of Health. photo courtesy of the Department of Health

The October 2020 goal has not been met due to delays caused by Covid-19, said Chris Puglia, communications officer with the Department of Health.

During the first week of September, the facility is scheduled for a substantial completion inspection as well as training on the new mechanical, electrical and security systems.

IT and telecommunications equipment along with new medical equipment will be installed after the Substantial Completion Certificate is obtained, said Puglia.

The current health centre in Sanikiluaq was built in 1984 and has been operation for 36 years.

According to Rumbolt, with a population of over 1000 people, there is “just not adequate space in the old health centre,” for the needs of the community’s growing population.

It is “too crowded” with doctors, dental workers and social workers all having to share the same offices, he explained.

The new building will allow staff and visiting specialists to provide more frequent services since they will not have to share offices and treatment spaces, stated Puglia. Additionally, the new facility will have a wireless telemedicine network to take advantage of increasing virtual care opportunities.

“Health programs will be delivered from one building and allow for better co-ordination of care and service delivery,” said Puglia. “The main objective of the construction of Sanikiluaq’s new health centre is to deliver primary health care including acute, chronic and emergent care.”

There will also be a negative pressure suite for the treatment of tuberculosis patients, he added.

On February 25, during the legislative sitting, Rumbolt had raised concerns to the minister of health about “fully” staffing the new health centre and building new staff housing units next to the centre.

Nine nurses have been proposed for the new facility, said Puglia. The nurses will work in areas such as mental health, public health and home-care.

Starting in the summer of 2021, the Nunavut Housing Corporation is planning to construct four-plex staff housing beside the new health centre.

To date, $30.2 million has been spent on building the new health care facility.

Rumbolt is hoping the new facility will enhance the current programs being offered to community members. “I think there’s always a great need for more mental health in our communities,” he said.

“It looks like a great facility from the outside. It’s really a lot bigger than the old one,” said Rumbolt. “We’re looking forward to getting it open so that we can utilize the facility.”

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