Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer wants the Alberta government to know “we cannot wait five years” for a local hospital expansion.
While $1-million for planning future needs at the Red Deer hospital was in Thursday’s provincial budget, Veer said it’s only a “small step in the right direction.”
She questioned why the Red Deer hospital project is not yet on the government’s five-year health care infrastructure list?
Veer suggested that getting $1 million grant out of $4.6 billion being spread around the province in health capital dollars, is inadequate given the Red Deer’s hospital’s “emergency” situation.
Complaints have repeatedly been expressed by medical staff and patients about lengthy waits in the packed emergency room, long delays for some surgeries, and the need to be able to treat local heart-attack patients in a timely, life-saving manner.
A local physicians’ group is advocating for at least 96 more beds, three more operating rooms, 18 more emergency room stretchers, and a cardiac catheterization lab that would bring down the local death rate from heart attacks.
On Thursday, group spokesman Dr. Kym Jim said he was pleased to finally get the ball rolling on a hospital project with the $1-million for developing a “business case.” It will be a long process, but this study at least acknowledges that some changes are needed, said Jim.
The planning is to happen over two years while the government waits to see the results of three studies being completed — on cardiac care, a Central Zone health care plan, and Red Deer hospital needs assessment.
Veer said the city will keep advocating for capital dollars for the hospital expansion until the project breaks ground. “Our community efforts are not finished.”
She predicted that the business case for the hospital “will likely recommend substantial funding, and we cannot wait five years for detailed planning or construction while we are in an emergency situation.”