After 10 years of planning, a new community hospital in Aviemore will admit its first patients next week.
The £18 million Badenoch and Strathspey Community Hospital is the first to be built in the village and in the Cairngorms National Park.
It is now the focus for health services in the area with the Ian Charles Hospital in Grantown and St Vincent’s in Kingussie closing.
The move has been hailed as a “win-win” situation for healthcare in the area.
What features does the hospital have?
The new hospital has 24-ensuite in-patient bedrooms, 12-consulting treatment rooms and a minor injuries unit along with dental and x-ray facilities.
It also provides accommodation for the Aviemore GP practice, as well as community health and social care teams.
In addition, it provides physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, chemotherapy, a midwife service, and an ambulance base.
The GP practice opens for its first patients on Monday, followed by social workers and district nurses.
10 in-patients, five each from Grantown and Kingussie, will follow on Wednesday and Thursday.
The new hospital was built by Hub North Scotland on a nine-acre site in Dalfaber.
Construction work continued during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown as the hospital was designated critical infrastructure work.
Consultation on the new hospital began in 2011 and community involvement has been vital in its design.
Local feedback was vital
Features including a therapy garden, works by local artists on the walls and fold-down beds to accommodate visitors in larger rooms were incorporated after local feedback.
“We have delivered a community hospital designed by the community in many ways,” said project director Kenny Rodgers.
“It serves the whole of Badenoch and Strathspey. It doesn’t belong to Aviemore.
“That is important to reflect for the communities that have a sense of loss.
“What it will do is ultimately secure healthcare for the future in Badenoch and Strathspey.”
The new facility will provide better facilities for infection control and spacing, needed following the pandemic.
Mr Rodgers said: “Covid 19 was unforeseen.
“But had we not planned the future with the communities then we could have been looking at an accelerated closure of the community hospitals which would have been unacceptable.
“By starting this process ten years ago we have avoided all that.
“People will now get healthcare in a modern environment and meets infection control standards and will be much better for staff to work in as well.”
Hospital is ‘exactly what the community wanted’
Local councillor Bill Lobban said: “The hospital is exactly what the community wanted. It’s really well designed and I think it’s just fantastic.
“This is a win-win for us.
“We get a fabulous new hospital and also get the standards of care we’ve always had at both St Vincent’s and lan Charles.”
“Right from the start NHS Highland decided this was not just a bricks and mortar hospital.
“It’s about improving healthcare throughout Badenoch and Strathspey.
“That’s the intention and I fully expect it to be fulfilled.
“One of the things NHS Highland deserve credit for is that it has consulted with the community right from the start.
“We had meetings on this for well over 10 years.
“They consulted the community and staff right the way through on what would make it special and more fit for purpose.”