By Lindsey Cooke 
BELLEVILLE – Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-term Care Eric Hoskins announced Monday the government will be contributing $500,000 the development of plans to construct a new Picton hospital .
Hoskins said Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital has served the community for nearly 100 years, and that it was time for a new hospital that meets its needs now and for years to come.
The plan is to create a whole new building for the hospital instead of renovating the old one. Hoskins reassured that patients are going to have access to even more health care services in the comfort of a modern hospital facility.
He mentioned that the new hospital will include inpatient and outpatient care, 24/7 emergency department, as well as surgical and dialysis suites.
The grant will assist with the planning for the redevelopment of the hospital. President of Quinte Health Care  Mary Clare Egbert is optimistic that there will be a new hospital built.
“I am a believer that Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital will be built. You don’t go into functional programming if you’re not planning to have a full hospital by the end of it. So this is a very big, exciting announcement,” she said.
Quinte Health Care runs Belleville General Hospital, North Hastings Hospital in Bancroft, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and Trenton Memorial Hospital.
Leo Finnegan, the former Prince Edward County mayor and previous Prince Edward Memorial Hospital Foundation chairman said a new hospital has been needed for the last 10 to 15 years.
He said various reports in the past have shown a new facility was needed and a renovation was not possible.
“I’ve read the report on why you couldn’t rebuild here, and one of the things is that you have would have to take the roof off and add four or five feet to the hospital,” he said.
The current chair of the foundation, Monica Aleyea told the audience to look to their left, out the window.
“Our vision for a new hospital which if all goes well will be right there beyond that door,” she said.
The new hospital is planning on being built right next to the to current one, she said.
Once the new building is up and running, the old hospital will be torn down and turned into parking, according to Egberts.
Mayor Robert Quaiff, of Prince Edward County, said he hopes the hospital will be built as soon as possible.
While there were talks of it being complete by 2024, Quaiff said he hopes to push for it to be built by 2021.
There have not been any solid numbers for costs but Quiaff estimated that it was a $75 to $80 million project.
Among the announcement of the new hospital promised to be built, Hoskins said that the government had committed to helping various community hospitals with more beds.
“It’s been a tough winter for many people and anticipating that our government provided support to Ontario hospitals and opened an additional 1,200 beds,” he said.