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Planning work begins on $4.4-million project for Canmore General Hospital

“It is pretty amazing. It has been a long time coming. A lot of working partnering with AHS and making sure that the project moved ahead at the right time, with the right people involved."
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Canmore General Hospital. RMO FILE PHOTO

CANMORE – The planning and design work on a revitalization project, expected to cost $4.4 million, has begun in the Canmore General Hospital’s emergency department.

Once completed, the revitalization is expected to improve patient flow, create private patient treatment spaces, and meet current infection, prevention, and control standards.

“It is pretty amazing. It has been a long time coming. A lot of work partnering with AHS and making sure that the project moved ahead at the right time, with the right people involved,” said Kristen Pauch-Nolin, executive director of the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation (CAHCF).

Upgrades will include a new private family quiet room and triage space, an ambulatory care area, new nurse stations, a medication room, and a barrier free washroom for patient use.

“The thing that I hear from staff that is challenging for them is there are privacy issues,” Pauch-Nolin said. “They work hard to ensure no one’s privacy is jeopardized. The way the current design is, it is hard to make sure that is maintained at the optimal level.

“They are going to create space for a family area, so there is a comfortable private space to have a conversation with a doctor or specialist,” Pauch-Nolin said.

Ensuring privacy is an important part of the upgrades coming to the emergency room and was the first priority identified by doctors and nurses.

“Many of the treatment bays are with curtains, and we live in a small community,” Pauch-Nolin said. “It could be your boss in the next bed. The staff is amazing, and they know the situation, and they always maintain patient confidentiality. It just makes it more challenging for them.”

Each year, 14,500 people visit the Canmore General Hospital’s emergency department, with Pauch-Nolin calling it “the heart of the hospital.”

The hospital was built in the 1980s, and the emergency room has not seen an update since.

“If you go into our hospital, you will notice in the wings there are in-patient rooms,” Pauch-Nolin said. “When it was built, it was built with the possibility of in-patient, but we don’t have in-patient. We have labour and delivery, acute care, long-term care.”

The project is jointly funded by the Alberta government, AHS and CAHCF.

ACI Architects out of Edmonton have been chosen as the prime consultants and architects for the project.

The construction is anticipated to be done in phases and is estimated to be completed in 2024.

“At this point, the architects have gone in, taken the photographs and looked at the space,” Pauch-Nolin said. “They have done all the consultations with the medical professionals. They are in the process of working on drawings.”

In a media release, AHS’ interim president and CEO Mauro Chies said it’s important to maintain healthcare infrastructure.

“The Canmore General Hospital plays an important role in the well-being of this community. ... It is vital we keep our healthcare infrastructure current, and projects like this ensure our patients receive quality care in the best environments.”

Steven Scott, CAHCF’s board chair said in a media release the project will help people who use the hospital.

“I’m extremely proud of what the foundation has already accomplished, including the recently completed $1.5-million renovation of Golden Eagle View long-term care centre,” Scott says. “This and other capital projects have been made possible by our wonderful, visionary donors who have worked with us to meet the growing needs of our hospital and community.”

The announcement is the latest in recent improvements to the hospital. In the spring, the hospital had extended hours begin for CT scanning to operate at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

New space will be created through the moving of an existing waiting room and eye clinic.

“They are going to find space and move those to more appropriate locations and people can get to them much more easily,” Pauch-Nolin said. “That is going to come with this engagement of the architectural team.”

The foundation has launched a Canmore emergency department revitalization campaign. The goal is to raise $2.2 million for the project. You can donate or find more information at