Construction begins today to rebuild the front entrance at Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach. And that means for probably the next seven months, visitors to the hospital will have to find a different way in.

The project was announced shortly after the new front entrance opened in 2014. Almost immediately there was criticism from the public over how steep the stairs are. As a result, crews will add an entrance area, which includes an elevator and enclosed stairway. There will also be a drop-off canopy and enclosed access connecting the main entrance and Emergency Room. The work is being done by Penn-Co Construction.

Jan Gunness is Director of Health Services for Bethesda Regional Health Centre. She says those visiting the hospital will now do so through the CancerCare Manitoba entrance or through Bethesda Place. The CancerCare Manitoba entrance is open 24 hours per day, while the Bethesda Place entrance is open from 6:30am to 9pm. The hospital entrance officially closed Sunday at midnight.

According to Gunness, this work will not immediately close the driveway leading to the Emergency Department. But she says there will be intermittent closures of that driveway related to the needed excavation work. Some of that work will happen in April and Gunness says at that time there will be flag people on site to redirect traffic. During that time, people needing to access the ER can do so through Bethesda Place or CancerCare.

During construction about half a dozen parking spots in front of the building will be inaccessible. But Gunness says they have been in touch with the city of Steinbach to ensure street parking in front of the hospital is restricted to visitors and patients.

"We've been waiting for this for awhile and I think we're ready to go and I'll be even happier when we're finished and have that modification completed," says Gunness. "I'm really excited."

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