Deni House construction to start in May

Advocates for seniors care in the community were delighted when in September of last year — after years of advocating for it — the Interior Health Authority announced it would re-open Deni House.

Advocates for seniors care in the community were delighted when in September of last year — after years of advocating for it — the Interior Health Authority announced it would re-open Deni House.

The IHA is now making good on that promise announcing Friday it is inviting general contractors to bid on the retrofit work.

When complete the facility will provide 28 new beds — nine designated short-term stay, two of which will be for palliative care and the remainder for convalescent and respite care.

Under an agreement between the IHA and the Cariboo Chilcotin District Regional Hospital board, the board will fund the renovations up to $1.9 million; Interior Health will pay the cost of facility operation. Construction is expected to begin in May and be complete by fall and will include: the redevelopment of current rooms into new single and triple-patient rooms; installing ceiling lifts over each residential bed; upgrading resident washrooms for handicap accessibility; replacing the nurse call and fire alarm systems; upgrading the central cooling and air handling systems; upgrading data and telephone lines for wireless capabilities and other minor renovations.

Audrey MacLise, president of the Williams Lake and District Seniors Advisory Council, is pleased the facility work is finally moving ahead.

“We’re very anxious to see it go ahead with the idea that it will open in the fall,” MacLise said. “We are very pleased to see the contracts will be let very soon and that they will be moving forward with this much-needed development.”

CCRHD board chair Rick Mumford agreed.

“Seniors in the central Cariboo and Chilcotin have wanted Deni House re-opened for some time,” he said. “This will be welcome news for our seniors who are anxiously awaiting construction to commence.”

However, MacLise is concerned that when the advisory council advocated for the re-opening of the facility following its closure in 2007, a need was identified for 50 complex care beds in the community.

“Twenty (complex care beds) won’t solve the problem, but it will mitigate it a bit.”

MacLise said she hopes that in the future either the IHA or the hospital board will provide funding to add onto the facility as she indicates there is room out the facility’s northwing.

“We should certainly be planning for the future,” she said.

The IHA has said the facility’s adult day services program will continue to operate at Deni House.