A new $18.9-million health centre in Tulita is expected to make significant improvements to health care delivery for residents.
Construction of the new building began this past spring and the project is to be completed by fall 2021.
Last September, a design-build contract was awarded to Clark Builders. The company completed the first stage of the project in the fall of 2019 with a design contract valued at $1.6 million.
The original Tulita Health Centre and Residence was built in 1983 but because of its age, the territorial government has determined that it no longer meets healthcare program requirements or energy codes, according to Greg Hanna, media spokesperson with the GNWT Department of Infrastructure.
“The new health centre is expected to be about 1,398 square metres (15,048 square feet) and similar to the Level B facilities in Fort Providence and Fort Resolution,” stated Hanna.
The GNWT said the facility will see significant improvements to services including a new day program component, improvements to the workflow between staff areas and treatment areas, and representation of community culture in the planned main lobby and waiting area.
Staffing levels are still to be confirmed, stated Damien Healey, communications manager with the Department of Health and Social Services.
Former Sahtu MLA Daniel Mark McNeely said the Tulita Health Centre, which he worked to get funded during his tenure in the legislative assembly, is needed because the older facility became “substandard to community expectations for health delivery.”
“The (new) health centre, from the drawings that I have seen, is quite a unique building and I think Tulita had outgrown the older building, which just became outdated,” he said. “It will have additional treatment rooms and has a built-in garage for an ambulance unit, and has a secondary floor for transient staff people coming into town. So it is not only for health delivery, but it is combined with a built-in garage with residential.”
Sustainable energy upgrades will be made with heat recovery, an optimized building envelope and use of high-efficiency LED lighting.
Since December, Clark Builders has been working on design completion and construction. Geotechnical work has been completed and the project team met with local hamlet, Indigenous groups and other representatives, according to the Department of Health and Social services.
McNeely said the new building should be seen in the context of growth of construction capital investment that is badly needed for the Sahtu region. He said there will also be a nursing staff four-plex established in Tulita as well as road expansions to the Bear River Bridge and the Prohibition Creek Access Road.
He noted that other regional projects include the Colville Lake School, which secured funding late last year for this year’s capital budget to replace two older and separate buildings.
Multiple efforts were made to reach Paulie Chinna, MLA for Sahtu, as well as Tulita Mayor Rocky Norwegian. Neither responded before publication deadline.