An update regarding the Norfolk Hospital Nursing Home Redevelopment Project

(Simcoe) – In early 2022, the Ontario government announced plans to replace the aging 1975 Norfolk Hospital Nursing Home (NHNH) with a state-of-the-art 128-bed long-term care facility. This initiative aligns with the provincial government’s commitment to allocating $6.4 billion to establish over 30,000 new beds by 2028, including enhancements to 28,000 long-term care beds across the province. Seniors in Ontario’s long-term care homes are older and frailer than any other cohort in the province’s history.

Ken Robb, Chair of the NHNH Board, expressed enthusiasm for this pivotal moment, stating, “This is an important and exciting time for NHNH. Driven by the NHNH Vision – To exceed the expectations of our residents and their families – we are embarking on a transformational journey to revitalize and rebuild the NHNH site. The time is now to begin designing our future. As we have been an integral part of the community for the past 47 years, we are poised to take a quantum leap forward.

Collaborating closely with the Ministry of Long-Term Care, architects, and various agencies, the NHNH is progressing through the capital planning process to bring this vision to life. The new long-term care (LTC) home, anticipated to surpass 120,000 square feet, will expand bed capacity, meet upgraded provincial design standards, and enhance services for residents.

The forthcoming design of the facility aims to significantly enhance the quality of life for residents. With a focus on creating a more homelike environment, the new facility will accommodate features for residents with dementia and provide increased privacy. Recognizing the burgeoning need for LTC beds in the region, the NHNH Board of Directors has recently submitted a proposal to increase to 161 beds to meet the growing demands of the area’s aging population.

While the exact commencement date for construction remains uncertain, there is an optimistic outlook for activity to potentially start by late 2024. Todd Stepanuik, President & CEO of NGH and NHNH, highlighted a significant shift in plans, stating, “While the initial plan was to rebuild on our current site, a comprehensive Board assessment revealed it’s not feasible. For a variety of compelling reasons, construction on a greenfield site is a more viable solution. Given the current site’s limitations, including being landlocked, posing significant logistical challenges, and hindering construction and future expansions, including those of Norfolk General Hospital, a greenfield site is optimal, both in terms of logistics and resident well-being. It allows for flexibility in layout and design and ensures optimal functionality. Additionally, and most importantly, rebuilding on the current site would necessitate the displacement of our valued residents which we believe contradicts our ethos as their true home, many of whom have called our facility home for a considerable amount of time. The greenfield site approach ensures the well-being of our residents, providing them with a sense of stability and continuity in their living environment and minimizing any disruption to them. For this compelling reason and understanding the emotional and physical impact that such a move would have on our residents, we believe that a more viable solution is to pursue new construction on a greenfield site.”

Choosing new construction on a greenfield site aligns with NHNH’s commitment to superior resident care while addressing the practical challenges posed by the existing site. The selection of a specific greenfield site is currently pending. This decision reinforces the enduring relationship between Norfolk General Hospital and NHNH as both organizations work towards a shared vision of a campus of care.

Vicky Florio, the NHNH Director of Care, stated “When speaking with our residents about the redevelopment plans, they have shared the importance of good food, a view of the outdoors, access to the outdoors, and a comfortable welcoming place to visit with friends and family. We look forward to this amazing opportunity in providing our residents and dedicated staff, with a safe modern space we will be proud to call home for many years to come.”