box10.gif (1299 bytes)








Heart facility finally set to open

EDMONTON – After more than a year of delays, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute will open by the end of June, officials said.

The advanced medical centre, a $217-million, 132-bed facility, was first scheduled to open in September 2005, then in 2007.

Last May, provincial and federal politicians celebrated its opening. But since then, the only part to open has been a cardiovascular and stroke research centre.

Ongoing construction problems and difficulties merging old and new hospital technology have kept the Mazankowski from being fully functional and cost taxpayers millions.

Earlier this year, the Edmonton Journal learned that more than 1,300 construction changes had to be made over the course of building the hospital. In a letter, Ken Hughes, chairman of Alberta Health Services board, said there is now a “renewed commitment from all parties (for) a speedy completion.”

The hospital is expected to be handed over by May 31. Then it will take about two weeks to inspect the facility and issue occupancy permits.

Alberta Health Services staff should be in the building by June 15, and Hughes said, they will be “followed shortly thereafter by patient move-in to general care and intensive care units, operating theatres and procedure rooms.”

Edmonton-Riverview Liberal MLA Kevin Taft, who’s been pushing the government on the delays since November, said he’ll believe the hospital is open when it actually happens.

“I hope it’s good news,” Taft said. “We all want to see this place up and running, given the service (that) has been promised for so long. It’s gotten to the point, frankly, where I’ll believe it when I see it.”