Parking shouldn’t be an issue at the new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital. That’s the assurance coming from the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation, as executive director Keith Curtis says there are plans for 1,160 parking spots.

“[That’s] almost double the number of spots at the current hospital. The parking issues that we’ve had to deal with at the QEII Hospital will not be an issue at the new hospital, for sure.”

How many of those spaces will be specifically designated for hospital staff has not yet been decided.

In addition to ground level parking near the emergency department, Curtis says government funding has been approved for a multi-level parkade. The Request for Proposals just came back, and includes a pedestrian walkway from the parkade to the hospital building itself.

Curtis says he’s been told the facility is still on track to open in 2019, after its original opening date of 2017 was pushed back in November 2015. At that time, the NDP government also revealed the project was $90 million over its original budget of $647.5 million.

“The general idea is that [late] spring turnover from Alberta Infrastructure to Alberta Health Services,” explains Curtis. “They’ll have to test drive the whole facility and make sure that it’s all working in proper order, so some time late 2019 the hospital should be through their commission.”

Curtis adds that Grande Prairie Regional College has indicated it is hoping to start running its nursing program out of the building in September. However, not all services will be moving over at once, and some will be staying at the QEII as a way to cut costs.

“It’s going to be really awesome having the two facilities intermingled like that,” he argues. “I think it will be beneficial, I’m sure, for the Grande Prairie university and for the hospital in itself both being under the same roof.”

As for fundraising, the hospital’s $20 million Keys to Care capital campaign is still underway. Curtis says there are still plenty of sponsorship opportunities available, including a $2.5 million project to have tablets for every bed in the hospital.

“It has multiple uses from being able to access medical files right at the bedside to patient engagement. Any time you’re a patient in a hospital, there’s a lot of downtime, so it’s an entertainment system and a communication system as well.”

In total, 240 tablets would be purchased, which aren’t provided by AHS. The GPRH would be one of only a few hospitals in the province with the system.