New Grande Prairie hospital to be open before 2022: Shandro

File photo. Grande Prairie hospital construction, 2019.

After years of delays, Grande Prairie residents are said to be just months away from having a new hospital.

The province's health minister was in the northern Alberta city on Monday to announce when the new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital opens at the end of the year, it will do so with two additional operating rooms.

The new facility's total 11 operating rooms will see an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 more surgeries done each year than are currently done at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. The new hospital will have five more operating rooms than the latter facility and is expected to perform between 14,000 and 15,000 surgeries annually.

The additional surgery capacity announced Monday was funded by $20 million allocated in the United Conservative government's $120-million surgical initiative.

Crews will be finished building the rooms by the end of the month, Minister Tyler Shandro said.

"I'm amazed, just coming in and seeing all the spaces that, you know, months ago, were empty," he told press.

"Looking forward to when it's actually accepting patients."

Ground was broken on the hospital about a decade ago. Its late and over-budget completion in June 2020 is the subject of a government review.

"I know it's been frustrating, but I have it on good authority this hospital will open before the end of the year," Shandro promised.

Since receiving keys to the facility last summer, Alberta Health Services has been preparing the site and recruiting staff.

Once open, the hospital will offer hip and knee replacement, cataract, bariatric, breast reconstruction and urgent surgeries.

Twenty-eight of GPRH's more than 240 beds will serve as a mental health unit, and 32 in an acute care unit.

It will also offer radiation therapy, so cancer patients and families will no longer need to travel to Edmonton.

The Queen Elizabeth II Hospital will continue to offer some services, but those details continue to be worked out at Alberta Health, according to Shandro.