December 11, 2023

The Nova Scotia government has purchased an unfinished hotel for $34 million with an eye to making it into a transitional care unit for some Halifax area hospital patients.

But a report obtained by CBC News raises potential limitations of the plan.

At the end of January, the province closed the deal with Cresco Holdings Ltd. for 21 Hogan Court, a property in a commercial development area of Bedford near Highway 102. A Health Department spokesperson confirmed the purchase price on Friday.

The property has been under construction since 2019 and was to be a Marriott-branded hotel. It has an assessed value of $10.4 million.

A representative for Cresco declined comment when contacted by CBC.

When the government announced a series of major health-care infrastructure projects in December, the list included two transitional care units.

The sites are intended to be destinations for hospital patients who are recovering but no longer require an acute care bed, or are awaiting a long-term care placement.

‘High-level opinion’ on adapting the building

At the time, government officials said one of the care units would be constructed in Bayers Lake near a new community outpatient centre and the other would go in an existing building. The two sites combined are supposed to have 195 beds.

Until now, the government has not revealed details about the location or cost of the second transitional case unit.

But a report obtained by CBC provides information about the new property and flags issues that could create challenges as a health-care facility for certain patients.

As designed, the five-storey building includes 110 suites — six of them accessible in the context of 2017 building code regulations — according to the report by Nycum Associates.

Nycum was contracted to provide a “high-level opinion” on the potential adaptation of 21 Hogan Court into a transitional care unit.

An unfinished hallway in a hotel under construction.
A view of one of the hallways in the unfinished hotel site. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

The report notes that transitional care units are typically for patients “who have mobility and/or cognitive challenges who also require some level of daily care, but are not receiving treatment.”

In the eyes of Nycum, that will be difficult to pull off at the property.

“It is our opinion that even with costly and time-consuming re-design and renovations, the building cannot be adapted to suit the patient profile without severe restrictions on patient admission eligibility,” the report says.

“These restrictions would require the patients to fit the profile of a hotel guest. Patients awaiting a bed in a long-term care facility would not be eligible.”

The inside of the entryway of a hotel under construction.
An interior view of the unfinished building. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

The report notes that there is a suggestion from government officials that the patient population for the site could be restricted to people who would meet specific eligibility requirements, such as patients who would be eligible to receive care at home.

“Among other characteristics, these patients would be ambulatory and capable of unassisted egress from the building in the event of fire or other emergency.”

Nycum’s report notes issues with the building that would make it difficult to meet standards required for patients eligible for long-term care. Those include the width of hallways, and an HVAC system that might not be in keeping with health-care facility standards for infection prevention and control.

Aside from the six units designed to meet accessibility standards, the report notes that 104 of the rooms are not wheelchair accessible.  Showers and tubs in those rooms would not be appropriate for patients with impaired mobility or who require bathing assistance, it states.

‘Due diligence was done’

In an email, a Health Department spokesperson said buying a building that is already under construction is a quicker way to ease the pressure faced by Halifax area hospitals.

“Due diligence was done, and we are confident the best building was purchased,” said Khalehla Perrault.

“We will continue to work with the authorities that have jurisdiction, such as the Office of the Fire Marshal, to ensure we maximize the use of this building.”

Perrault said the government would share more information about the plan when details are confirmed.


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