St. John's Rehab nets longterm funding

The provincial government has committed $1.2 million of annual funding for St. John’s Rehab Hospital’s new John C. and Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Ambulatory Care, which officially opens this month.

The 4,600-square-metre building will largely focus on outpatient rehabilitation, but will provide services to some of the hospital’s inpatients as well. The building will feature new therapy pools, enhanced clinical space and a new therapy garden. The facility is the hospital’s first major addition in nearly 40 years.

The $1.2 million of annual funding will go toward the new building’s operating costs, such as keeping the lights and heating on, said St. John’s president and CEO, Malcolm Moffat.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that we got this $1.2 million,” Moffat said. “It means there’s no pressure on us anymore to have to go out and find money some other way.”

Moffat said if they had not secured the funding, they would likely have had to borrow money to cover the new structure’s operating costs. That could have had a detrimental effect on the hospital’s services, he added.

“Eventually we would have to make the decision to pay back that money and that would mean we could have to cut some of our programs,” Moffat said.

The provincial government previously committed $35.7 million toward building the new centre. Moffat said the process of securing the operating costs started early on to avoid complications.

“The process sometimes happens that you get the approval after you open your building and not before,” Moffat said. “We started working with the ministry almost a year ago to make sure that we would have the funding in place when we opened the building so we wouldn’t run into issues.”

In addition to new clinical space and expanded facilities, the new development introduces a new main entrance and additional accessible parking for patients and visitors. The hospital’s existing inpatient wing will be renovated to create a fifth inpatient unit.

“Our ultimate dream is to expand the amount of ambulatory care that’s being done,” Moffat said. “And that’s the real reason we built this centre.”

The new ambulatory care centre will open in November.