The new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford (SHNB) is now home to 121 patients and the staff who care for and support them. The patient and staff move from the old hospital to the new one was completed on Monday, November 19.
Big smiles, heartfelt greetings and undeniable excitement welcomed patients and staff over the past three weeks as they left behind the nearby century-old Saskatchewan Hospital psychiatric rehabilitation facility.
SHNB Director Linda Shynkaruk greets Virginia with a welcoming hug as Elaine Nyholt, SHNB staff member escorts Virginia into the new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford.
The first seven patients were moved November 5 into the Community Reintegration Units at the front of the new hospital. On November 13, forty-one (41) patients moved into the main hospital building, followed November 19 by the remaining 73.
Most patients had already seen inside the new facility, while some held out until their actual move-in date. “It’s fantastic,” one patient said as she saw the inside of the hospital for the first time. Another described the new hospital as “exceptionally superb.”
“Patient response to the new hospital has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Linda Shynkaruk, director of SHNB. “Patients and staff are adjusting as well as expected to their new surroundings,” she added.
Many patients have told her they are very happy with their new individual rooms. Each patient was welcomed to their room with the gift of a special blanket from the AMGITS Saskatchewan Hospital auxiliary, plus a hand-written card with a message just for him or her. “The patients were very touched by the messages,” Shynkaruk said. Each blanket bears the AMGITS logo and is in the traditional Saskatchewan Hospital colours of purple and gold. “AMGITS” is the word “stigma” spelled backwards, representing the need to turn around the stigma of mental illness.
Shynkaruk said the move from the old hospital to the new one went very smoothly. “Patient belongings were packed and ready to go. We worked to move in as much as possible as we could before the patients arrived,” she stated.
“Our staff and everyone who helped with the move have been amazing,” Shynkaruk added. “We are all busy getting settled into our new location, focusing first on our patients to ensure they become comfortable and adjust as quickly and safely as they can.”
Patient Denver Roy described the new Saskatchewan Hospital as “a dream come true.” He said, “There’s no comparison at all to the old one. It’s a good feeling to have your own room for your own stuff. You don’t need to bump into anyone. If you want to relax, you can go and relax in your own space.”
Denver Roy settles in to his new private patient room, proudly displaying the welcoming blanket from AMGITS, the Saskatchewan Hospital Auxiliary.
Denver is already looking forward to spring and summer so he can go into the hospital courtyards and play basketball, his favourite sport. He said he and his friends in the hospital like it a lot and he thinks the staff are getting used to it too. “Once time goes by, we’ll get into the swing of things,” Denver stated.
Rod English, a 25-year employee at Saskatchewan Hospital agrees. “I am thrilled for the staff and the patients,” he said. “It’s going to be a wonderful place to work, and for the patients to live and receive treatment, once we get the initial hurdles out of the way.” He is optimistic that won’t take long.
Veteran SHNB employee Rod English is confident the new Saskatchewan Hospital is going to be a wonderful place for patients and staff.
“The patients are doing really well, considering they’ve moved from a building that was their home,” English stated. “Staff members are also adjusting well.” He described it as a big “learning curve” for everyone.
Shynkaruk acknowledged that it will take time for all of the patients and staff to become totally comfortable in the new hospital. She is confident patients and staff members are up to the challenge.
She is grateful for the community support and interest in the new facility during the recent public tours prior to patient move-in. “The response was overwhelming,” Shynkaruk stated. “We toured 2,121 people through the hospital in 194 hour-long tours over 10 days. While most of the visitors were from The Battlefords and area, people came from all across Saskatchewan. We even had visitors from Calgary, Ottawa, and Seattle!”
Shynkaruk added that patients, staff and others associated with building the new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford will be taking a bit a time before hosting a grand opening event. “We are looking forward first of all to celebrating our first Christmas in our new home,” she added.