For some time, we have been aware of questions being asked in the community with regard to the proposed new hospital. For this very reason, earlier this year we asked readers to send us their questions, with the intention of finding answers that would separate truth from rumour.
An interview was conducted back in the spring with MLA, Bob Bjornerud, and at that time a list of questions was sent to the St. Anthony’s Hospital Foundation. We decided to wait for the answers before continuing with any further interviews, or pursuing other sources of information.
Two weeks ago, we received the first round of answers to those questions. It was always intended that the answers would be shared with the Miner Journal, and that publication would be coordinated between the paper and this website. As the Charity Golf Classic was almost upon us, the Miner Journal and EsterhazyOnline jointly decided to wait until after that event before publishing the following exactly as received.
Question: We have heard that the government is only funding integrated facilities (care homes and hospitals together). Has this been considered for Esterhazy or is it just a hospital?
Response: The proposed Esterhazy project is a combined hospital and care home that we chose to separate into phase 1 – the hospital and phase 2 – the care home. The hospital and care home could be built at the same time if that was the government’s wish and the community would have to raise the funds for the care home portion of the project.
Question: How come there has never been a site designated for the new hospital?
Response: The site for the proposed facility will be determined when the project gets the green light to proceed. There is enough land available in the existing St. Anthony’s hospital site for both a hospital and care home so that may very well be the site.
Question: With the announcement of the new investment at Mosaic and, given the importance of potash revenue to the provincial government, can this not be used as additional leverage to speed things up?
Response: The government has been made aware of the significant investment by Mosaic and PCS Rocanville in the area. That is a definite plus for helping our project to move forward. There are not many places in the province that are booming like this area.
Question: Is the lack of movement on announcing a new hospital in Esterhazy because the Yorkton hospital will be getting renovated and upgraded instead? Is some or all of the monies raised for the Esterhazy hospital being pledged to Yorkton instead? Hopefully, there is still time in your article to have the hospital building fund committee definitively address this.
Response: Both Yorkton and Esterhazy are on the schedule for new hospitals. In our proposal, a care home will be attached to the hospital. None of the money raised for the St. Anthony’s hospital will be given to Yorkton. Yorkton must raise their own money. Yorkton is, and will continue to be, a regional hospital that people from our area use. People and companies from our area may very well choose to support Yorkton’s fund raising efforts. An example is the current fund raising going on now to purchase a new CT scan for the Yorkton hospital that will be used by many people in this area.
Question: People in Esterhazy seem to be under the impression that a definite promise was given by the government. Something like this, “ you raise X million dollars and we will begin building your hospital.” Was such a promise given? If it was, what is the hold-up? If no such promise was given, when, and how, did this general public misperception begin and why has it been allowed to continue uncorrected?
Response: The Health Ministry prioritizes health care projects in conjunction with the health regions in the province. One of the criteria for a project to move forward is for the community to raise their share of the project funds. This is one of the criteria but not the only one. There are higher priority projects than St.Anthony’s at the present time, such as the Children’s hospital. The province is experiencing a decline in revenue due to the slump in oil prices and declines in potash revenue; therefore, there is less funds to allocate to new projects. There was not a commitment from the government that, once we have our required funds in place, the project would move forward. The fund raising effort was undertaken to help the government move our project to the top of the list of projects in its category. The Charity Golf is celebrating 15 years of fund raising for the hospital and care home. The first year that the Charity Golf put money into the hospital building fund was 2009. Prior to 2009, funds raised by Charity Golf were used to enhance care in the hospital and care home.
As we receive further answers, we will publish them.