Alberta closing 300 acute care hospital beds to save $50M over three years

EDMONTON — Alberta is closing 300 acute-care hospital beds and another 246 at an Edmonton mental hospital over the next three years as the province’s health superboard struggles with a $1-billion deficit.

EDMONTON — Alberta is closing 300 acute-care hospital beds and another 246 at an Edmonton mental hospital over the next three years as the province’s health superboard struggles with a $1-billion deficit.

The move drew an immediate outcry on Wednesday from Friends of Medicare and others who said the beds are sorely needed in overcrowded hospitals.

Stephen Duckett, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, said the acute-care hospital beds would be reopened if the situation became critical or if there were a serious outbreak of swine flu in the province.

“If we need those beds to provide acute care a week or six months or a year from now, we will use them,” Duckett told a news conference.

The plan released by Duckett hinges on 15 private firms completing construction of roughly 800 new assisted-living and long-term care beds, mostly in Edmonton and Calgary.

Elderly patients who are in acute-care beds due to space shortages will be transferred as the new private facilities open, and the hospital beds they leave will be mothballed.

David Eggen of Friends of Medicare called it a shell game.

“Moving funds from public hospitals to private contractors is an attempt to hijack public health care,” he said.

The bed shuffle is expected to save roughly $50 million within three years.

But NDP health critic Rachel Notley said moving people out of acute beds could also result in elderly patients getting less care than they need.

“Assisted living and designated assisted living are not regulated,” said Notley. “There are no staffing requirements.”

“They are not inspected the same way, not governed the same way and do not provide the same level of care.”

Duckett said he has seen people who get stuck in acute-care beds because there’s no other space and it’s not a good situation.

In addition, Alberta Health Services announced that instead of the 150 beds originally expected to be closed at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, the province’s largest mental-health facility, that number has now risen to 246.

The move has been widely condemned by mental-health agencies and others who feared the move would see the most serious mental patients end up on the street.

However, the Alberta Union of Public Employees pointed out that the math doesn’t add up.

“They will be closing 246 beds at Alberta Hospital Edmonton and only adding 150 community beds for mental health patients,” said president Doug Knight.

He said the union is launching a series of television advertisements that will inform Albertans about the consequences of the bed closures.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Buccaneers battle Wolfpack in AFL semifinal

The Central Alberta Buccaneers battled the Calgary Wolfpack in the Alberta Football… Continue reading

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

Central Alberta Yogathon cancelled Saturday

Due to air quality concerns the fourth annual event will take place Sept. 15

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Hundreds of people have lined the route of a funeral… Continue reading

Calgary police officer seriously injured

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says one of its officers was… Continue reading

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

MONTREAL — Canadian politicians are adding their voices to the international reaction… Continue reading

‘Four of a dozen kids will not make it:’ Tina Fontaine’s family healing together

WINNIPEG — Melissa Stevenson was just starting her career 18 years ago… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $16 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $16 million jackpot… Continue reading

Hundreds of neo-Nazis march in Berlin, protected by police

BERLIN — Hundreds of neo-Nazis waving flags with the colours of the… Continue reading

Romanian trucker is Genoa bridge’s 43rd victim

GENOA, Italy — The Latest on the Italy bridge collapse (all times… Continue reading

1 dead, 6 injured after building collapse in Nigeria capital

ABUJA, Nigeria — An emergency response chief says one person is dead… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month