Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes has finally been able to see its long awaited new acute health care centre completed. Vice president of medical services Doctor Denis Fortier says the Centre De Santé Notre-Dame Health Centre is a great improvement to their former facility built back in the 1950s.

"We now have a $

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Dr. Denis Fortier20.8-million acute care health centre that has ten beds, four observation/emergency beds which include a birthing room," explains Fortier. "And it is attached to the primary care clinic and the personal care home. So, it's kind of an all-inclusive health campus."

He says, "It was somewhat introduced in 1996, but with the formation of the RHA's the plans fell through. Plans were rekindled in the 2000s, and in December 2010 there was a formal announcement that the government would move forward on building."

Fortier notes they formally planted the shovel in the ground for the new construction in 2015, and just held the official grand opening for public viewing last Friday. The facility won't actually go live, though, until the end of May or early June.

"For those who have seen the old facility, it was very much past its prime," Fortier notes. "One of the things that are new is the concept of having a single room for each patient for infection control.  There is a room that is designed for isolation or bariatric care -- people with obesity issues. We have a modern labour and delivery recovery room that was pretty much non-existent in the other facility. There's a significant improvement in the emergency department, and significantly more space as well. It also has a new kitchen and laundry facility."

He explains the extended service area of the centre includes St. Claude, Treherne, Holland up to Somerset, Rathwell, and Swan Lake -- roughly ten communities and surrounding areas to the west of Southern Health-Santé Sud. It services what's furthest away from the centre of the RHA -- places that are 50 - 60 minutes away from Portage, and 50 - 60 minutes away from Boundary Trails -- so it covers the areas that are further away from other sites. Fortier adds it's basically an enhancement of what was provided before, and he emphasizes it's also a designated bilingual facility for the larger Francophone population in the area.

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Dr. Denis Fortier at grand opening of clinic (submitted photo)