Do we need a new VG?

In October when I wondered if a total tear down was the only option for the VG, one commenter wrote, “The thing about the Centennial Building is that it was not built to last. In some ways, the Victoria Building is in much better shape, though it’s used almost exclusively for offices and ambulatory care. Otherwise there are a lot of compelling reasons to centralize inpatient care at the HI site, ranging from overnight coverage to consult coverage during the day…”

I have been thinking a lot about this. If the Victoria Building is primarily used for offices, why not repurpose it? Why not move the executives out and remodel their space for patient care? That would be faster and a less expensive solution than a building new hospital from scratch.

When I read the comment about the Victoria Building’s primary use as offices I thought of the Americanization of our health care system. When President Clinton attempted to bring in a national health system for the United States legendary newsman Walter Cronkite produced a Point-of-View special for PBS. To illustrate how much of the American health care dollar was gobbled up by administration costs he focused a camera on a Detroit hospital. The camera panned right to an identical building. That second building housed the hospital administration. Administration used the same amount of square footage as patient care. Limiting administration creep is one of the goals of our realigned health authority. Given that Annapolis Valley District Health under Janet Knox had among the highest administration costs in Canada – a point raised by then opposition health critic Leo Glavine – this new executive may need well-defined (and limited) office space to serve as a constant reminder of this goal.

While I believe executives should be on-site to appreciate the issues and problems front line care givers and patients have, Knox and the core team she brought from Annapolis Valley District Health to Halifax have, by previous choice, shown they prefer to work off-site, so they could do it again in Halifax. In a pinch we could look at rehabbing the Centennial Building for offices instead of patient care or replace it with a smaller office complex or move the executives into any of the soon to be available class A office space in the city.

Considering the investments being made at the Halifax Infirmary and Dartmouth General, the notion of building a totally new hospital at the VG may just be old-thinking and not relevant to or innovative in the way we need to move forward with better delivery of health care.

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1 Response to Do we need a new VG?

  1. Tim Segulin says:

    I’ve also wondered why we should be tearing down a large structure that’s not really all that old – built when, in the 60s? I had been thinking along the lines of refurbishing it (this time with decent plumbing) and generally updating it for modern medical/nursing requirements, if that were possible. It never occurred to me to simply swap and re-purpose buildings as you suggest. Superficially that sounds like a good idea. Surely it must cost less than starting from scratch?

    We can’t afford Cadillac solutions in NS.

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