New Montreal patient home designed for Nunavik’s needs: health board
“It’s a big relief for us”
Nunavik health officials say it was a long search, but their efforts have paid off.
If all goes well, Nunavik patients heading south to Montreal for medical appointments will get a new facility to stay at, starting December 2016.
The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services ended a five-year long search this summer when Quebec signed off on a contract, awarded to a Montreal firm that will construct and oversee management of a 143-bed facility in the city’s Dorval neighbourhood.
“It’s a big relief for us,” said Larry Watt, the health board’s director of out-of-region services. “It took a long time, but our efforts are bearing good benefits.
“It will be newly-constructed, so it’s going to fit our needs.”
Since 2009, the health board and its Montreal-based Northern Quebec Module have been on the look-out for a facility close to both the airport and to Montreal’s major health care facilities, while also ensuring the location is outside the downtown core.
The new four-storey building will be built at the corner of Orly and Michel-Jasmin Avenues, on the site of a former restaurant, just blocks from Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport.
The ground floor will consist of a reception and administrative area, along with a living room and cafeteria, while the upper three floors will house different variations of guest rooms — some single, others designed for families and others outfitted for patients with physical handicaps.
The contract was awarded to a Montreal real estate firm, which will oversee the construction of the centre and act as the property’s landlord.
Nunavik’s health board, via its Quebec Northern Module, will sign a 15-year lease with the firm at a cost of $2.5 million a year, Watt said.
Construction is expected to begin at the site at the end of the summer, completed by October 2016 and ready for use that December.
“We get over 5,000 appointments referred to us each year,” said Watt, referring to the number of medical appointments that have to be scheduled in the Montreal area. “Knowing we’ve got a new facility is fantastic news for Nunavimmiut.”
Watt says the new boarding home should also mark a departure from all the controversy surrounding the search for a new centre, which first began in the late 2000s, when health officials were forced to move it from a crime-ridden neighbourhood on St. Jacques St. W.
But when Nunavik health officials considered moving the facility to a former Chinese hospital on St-Denis in the Montreal neighbourhood of Villeray, the council borough and community members spoke out against it, alleging it would attract social problems the borough wasn’t prepared to deal with.
Since 2011, patients from Nunavik have been staying at a YMCA facility on Tupper St. in Westmount, but many have complained the neighbourhood is a magnet for homeless people, addicts and drug peddlers.
“The majority of the difficulty we had was the exposure to homeless people and criminal activity,” Watt said.
“Ultimately, we’re satisfied with the new location we found.”