An expansion project for Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre was removed from Alberta Health Services’ priority list because AHS Central Zone is in the process of developing a long-term health plan, according to AHS.
Meanwhile AHS Calgary Zone, also working on a long-term plan, has six projects on the priority list.
A group of concerned doctors from the Red Deer hospital are currently spearheading a public awareness campaign to tell Central Albertans how desperately expansion is needed at the regional hospital.
Doctors are hosting a State of the Hospital Address for the public on Feb. 28, at 4 p.m. at Baymont Inn & Suites.
In a written statement to the Advocate, AHS said, “The high priority projects from the Calgary Zone on the AHS 2016 submission list are largely site based and are not impacted by long term zone planning. RDRHC is the primary site for the central zone and any expansion plans are highly dependent on the long range planning for the entire zone.”
Among the Calgary projects deemed a priority are a new complex long-term care facility, expansion of an existing mental health facility for children and adolescents, and the final phases of emergency department/laboratory redevelopment at Peter Lougheed Centre.
Brian Stevenson, chief program officer for capital management for AHS in Edmonton, said information that comes Central Zone’s long-range service plan, to be submitted to Alberta Health this fall, will show what is needed for future expansion of Red Deer hospital.
“Red Deer Regional Hospital redevelopment has been part of our capital submission to government for the past few years and it is currently a future capital project priority,” Stevenson said.
“The next process would be a business case but the government, before they would proceed with business case, they would want to see what the information is that comes out of the long range service planning,” Stevenson said.
The AHS 2016 Multi-Year Facility Infrastructure Capital Submission, dated Oct. 6, listed 21 priority projects, many of them in Calgary and Edmonton.
A Red Deer needs assessment, released December 2015, showed the regional hospital was already short 96 beds, three operating rooms, and 18 emergency room treatment stretchers. In 10 years that gap will grow to 194 beds, seven operating rooms, and 33 emergency room treatment/observation stretchers.
Stevenson said the provincial government makes the final decision on which capital projects are approved for construction. Not much construction has been announced in the last few years so several projects have remained on the priority list.
AHS has been investing in the Red Deer hospital through maintenance projects to upgrade elevators, the nurse on-call system, boilers, the roof, lab renovations, and more, he said.
“We’ve completed probably about $7.5 million worth of infrastructure maintenance projects in the last few years.”
Concerned doctors have posted information on a Facebook page — Diagnosis Critical. Your Central Alberta Regional Hospital.