If all goes according to plan, the long-awaited new long-term care facility in Meadow Lake could be completed before winter.

“There is a lot of progress happening, at least from what you can see from the street, and we’re very pleased with how the facility is looking as it nears completion,” remarked Chris Thiele, the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s director of continuing care for the Northwest, with regard to the new Northwest Community Lodge. “We have had some shipping delays with some of our various materials and equipment resulting from the pandemic, however, and some of these materials have yet to arrive.”

Thiele said the goal is to have the facility completed by the end of November, but admitted there could be a delay if certain items don’t arrive in time.

“That is the best estimate we’re still getting from the contractor,” he added. “We anticipate there is a real possibility of there being a delay in terms of completion only because of these shipping delays. We continue to work with the builder, we focus our efforts where we can to minimize an delays that may or may not occur. We don’t know if it will happen yet, but here is a possibility the opening could be moved back.”

If the facility is completed by the end of November, Thiele said residents would likely remain at the current Northland Pioneers Lodge until at least February.

“Even if the keys are handed over to us in November, we still have some things we need to do on our end before we open the building and transfer our long-term care residents over,” he said. “We’ll have some commissioning to do, some IT infrastructure that needs to be installed, and considering the building would be new to our staff, there will also be some training that needs to happen. We can only go by the information we have at this time, and we receive regular updates from the building contractor and are aiming to be on track. Unfortunately, it’s always a moving target.”

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts for furniture, fixtures and equipment are ongoing by the North West Community Lodge Association which held its annual general meeting Sept. 14.

“We brought on a couple new board members – Cara Washbrook and Liz Hanna – at the AGM and we summarized our year in a nutshell,” noted Alannah Farr, NCLA president. “We’re going to be looking at a lot more online campaigning and fundraising for the coming year because of COVID-19 ands its unpredictable nature.”

The association has an online 50/50 starting Nov. 1 while the golf tournament the group organized at the end of August raised about $8,400.

“Also, our 72-residential suite challenge has secured 19 out of 72 suites at $12,000 per suite,” Farr said. “That is exciting. Overall, to date we’ve raised $1.3 million of our $2.7 million.”

Even when the new facility is up and running, fundraising efforts will continue.

“We plan to fundraise for continual equipment, furniture and so on, much like the Hospital Foundation does, but our focus will remain on long-term care,” she said, “There will always be that need for upgrades and further equipment. We have had a lot of community support this past year and many people who continue to reach out.”

by Phil Ambroziak