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Willow Square Continuing Care Centre welcomes first residents as doors officially open

Willow Square Continuing Care Centre (CREDIT: Government of Alberta)

FORT MCMURRAY (660 NEWS) – The Willow Square Continuing Care Centre has welcomed its first residents as doors of the long-awaited facility have officially opened.

After several years of delays and political back and forth, construction on the facility – located in downtown Fort McMurray – wrapped up this past January.

Since then, Alberta Health Services undertook a thorough cleaning of the facility, installed and tested medical equipment and furniture, stocked up on necessary supplies, and prepared programs/services for residents.

Willow Square was almost complete in January of 2020, however the COVID-19 pandemic led to more delays and then flooding the following April caused damage to the underground parking.

Now that it’s finally open, the $102-million facility has 108 beds and space for 36 more to meet future needs.

According to the province, Willow Square came in under budget and is the most modern complex of its kind in Alberta.

It has common areas, a library, café, chapel, multi-purpose rooms, courtyards, a hair salon, sensory room, and rehabilitation therapy rooms.

“This modern centre will provide excellent quality of life and greater access to care for seniors in the region,” stated Premier Jason Kenney in a press release.

“This underscores our commitment to expand services to seniors across the province and to provide resident-focused care when and where they need it.”

Thirty-nine residents from the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre’s long-term care unit were the first to move into Willow Square this past Wednesday, with other residents expected to join them in the coming weeks.

“Alberta Health Services looks forward to welcoming residents and their families to Willow Square,” said AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu.

“This much-anticipated new continuing care facility provides a safe and comfortable space where residents can age in place in the community they care about. We know Willow Square will help meet the current and future community needs in the Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo region.”