For the last two years, Cornwall resident Terry Hamilton has been visiting the University of Ottawa Heart Institute every two months.
“I had a corroded artery cleaned out when I had a stroke. It left this scar here,” he said, pointing at his neck.
“I’ve had a stent put in my heart through my wrist, and I’ve had a pacemaker-defibrillator put in.”
The 49-year-old is younger than most patients but he’s nine years older than the institute, which, like him, needs upgrades.
Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty toured the facility Wednesday, announcing the province is investing big money for a major renovation.
“It will create jobs, it will support families, it will help strengthen the local economy, as the construction gets underway,” said McGuinty.
The premier didn’t specify how much money the province is investing — one of many announcements before the Oct. 6 election — but it will be at least $100 million.
“We’ve got a way for people to submit bids and we’re not going to jeopardize the value that we can obtain for taxpayers,” he said, adding the final amount won’t be known until the tendering process has been completed.
The facility will see state-of-the-art upgrades on the life support floor, including six new cardiac intensive care unit beds and an additional operating room.
It will also have more surgical daycare rooms and recovery rooms, said Carole Workman, chair of the board of directors at the Ottawa Hospital, which is linked to the Heart Institute.
“Patients will move more seamlessly,” she said.
Roughly 67,000 people use the facility each year and that number will increase, said Heart Institute president and CEO Dr. Robert Roberts.
“We expect that to be up to around 85,000 with seven or eight years,” he said.
Roberts says everyone will benefit.
“With this announcement we are building the future of the Heart Institute so we can advance treatment of heart disease and the search for a cure,” he said.
The funding means a lot to institute founder Dr. Wilbert Keon.
“It’s been a very long road. I’ve spent my life here building this and my heart just swells with gratification to see this,” he said.
And for patients like Hamilton, “I think it’s a good idea because I’ve been using it quite a bit.”
The Heart Institute is Ontario’s only stand-alone cardiac hospital.
Construction is expected to begin in 2014 and will take about five years to complete.