The emergency department project at Haldimand War Memorial Hospital is on budget, but two-and-a-half weeks behind schedule due to this year’s severe winter weather conditions, according to  CAO David Montgomery.

Concrete for the first floor was poured in mid-March.

The Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has approved Phase 2 of the construction project, whereby the current Emergency Department would be transformed into an outpatient village in the future.

A number of other renovations are also included in Phase 2, including the completion of a second  floor above the new Emergency Department to accommodate a relocated laboratory, and an education centre for employees and the general public.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has confirmed that it will soon begin its review of this second phase.

The hospital has been experiencing unprecedented volumes of patients, said Montgomery, with the demand for beds reaching 125 per cent at times.  This is causing backups in the Emergency Department, and challenges for patient care staff and discomfort for patients and families.

There are limited numbers of beds available for people who need them most and many continue to be occupied by patients awaiting placement in long-term care.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care last November committed to increasing the number of long-term care beds across the province by 5,000 by 2022 and by 30,000 within the next 10 years, Montgomery added.

Like most communities, Haldimand County is facing a shortage of long-term care beds and the hospital has applied for 66 additional beds to complement the 64 now at Edgewater Gardens. If the application is successful, these beds will be housed in a new facility on hospital property.

As of January 31, 2018 there were 145 people on the waiting list for a bed at Edgewater.