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PHOTOS: See inside Badenoch and Strathspey's new £20m hospital


By Gavin Musgrove

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NHS project director Kenny Rodgers who has overseen the delivery of the new hospital in Aviemore.
NHS project director Kenny Rodgers who has overseen the delivery of the new hospital in Aviemore.

The senior NHS Highland figure in charge of delivering the new £20m Badenoch and Strathspey Community Hospital has said opening the doors to the public for the first time was a proud day.

Kenny Rodgers, who lives in Grantown, has been the project director for the new facility at Dalfaber in Aviemore.

He provided the welcome for the 160 people who took part in tours of the new hospital at the weekend, and was on hand to answer a whole range of questions.

The state-of-the-art facility is due to open on September 30 with an official opening in several months' time once services have been bedded in.

Mr Rodgers told the Strathy: "I'm very pleased with the end result. We have spent 10 years working on this project to redesign health and social care in Badenoch and Strathspey; this is the culmination of lots of work."

The NHS health chief said he was particularly delighted with the input from the local community: "The support we have had from the community and local Highland councillors has been significant in getting us to where we are today.

"It is a very proud day."

The new hospital comprises three distinct areas for patients on the ground floor: in-patients department, out-patients department and a new Aviemore GP practice.

On the upper floor is a large office space for health care teams and professionals as well as plant.

Mr Rodgers said it was essential local patients took advantage of the new facilities when needed as NHS Highland remobilises out-patients services after Covid over the coming months.

He explained: "Over the next six months or so we will be migrating back towards running out-patients in our community locations and working with Raigmore Hospital for what can be provided here.

"It is really useful that when people want to access services they use the patient focus booking system and request they want their care to be here and not in Raigmore Hospital and that is particularly the case for X-ray services."

The current local X-ray service operates on reduced hours in Aviemore and has not been in Grantown for many years.

Mr Rodgers said: "It is important that we generate demand for this service here so we can maintain this for local people."

The service will operate Monday to Friday but not at the weekend.

Mr Rodgers is particular pleased with the in-patients department.

He observed: "The in-patients unit is always going to have a clinical feel because modern health care must have hard floors and hard surfaces so that they are easy to clean.

"But the hospital feels soft because we have nice features such as the courtyards where we can bring the outside space into the ward and also brighten up the environment with lots of natural lights.

"The views from patients' bedrooms onto the landscaped areas, steam railway and beyond gives it a nice feel to see and hear the trains, people walking past, the therapy sessions taking place in the gardens. There is a nice vibe.

"The use of colour has been excellent and they are there for dementia friendly purposes as well. People can see the contrast between the wardropes, the beds, the toilets.

"For staff, it will be a much better environment to work in, and to keep clean for domestic staff."

There are safety features in place if dementia patients wander including an alarm system.

Other facilities on the ground floor include a kitchen where meals will be freshly prepared. There had been a debate on whether to bring in outside catering before NHS health chiefs heeded local calls for the kitchen.

There are also two palliative care beds and a mortuary for four bodies - one more than currently available at St Vincent's Hospital and Ian Charles Hospital.

One of the visitors at the weekend was local Highland councillor Pippa Hadley.

She said: "I'm especially impressed by the bright, beautiful paintings done for the hospital by local artists Ann Vastano and Angus Grant, and the decorative front door sign that Angus did is so effective.

"On Saturday it was just white etching and our guide told us it was to be greyed in to finish.

"The local and artwork theme going through the hospital is spectacular, and really highlights nature and the connections to the location and the locals - even down to the artwork friezes of the children on the windows, and the amazing views from the rooms."

The project has been a pioneering one for NHS Highland.

A health authority spokesperson said: "The redesign of services in Badenoch and Strathspey proposed and developed a health and social care model that involved the closure of two existing community hospitals to develop and finance an enhanced community service, developments to health centres as well as a new community hospital, fit for the future.

"This model of health and social care was groundbreaking as it had never been proposed in NHS Highland before and required close working with local communities and Scottish Government to consult, plan and deliver to achieve the best outcome for patients and service users.

"NHS Highland is grateful to local communities and local authority members, past and present that have supported the development of this new model of care.

Read more on the strath's new hospital and reaction from the first visitors in today's Strathy, now on sale.


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